Director Update December 2020

Director Update December 2020

Coming towards to end of the year invites reflection. What a year it has been. As an organisation we have moved premises (and students, staff, tutors, and supervisors managed multiple locations); managed staff changes; and then put all courses, training and CPD online due to COVID restrictions. In this time we saw the structural inequalities in our society writ large again and again, and we recommitted to anti-racism, and the work we need to do to oppose hatred, and this work continues – not just in words, but in actions.

I want to send out a special seasonal thank you to the staff who have worked so hard to keep things, not just going, but growing and developing, through this time. I have particular admiration for the students who have completed their courses (or are just doing so now) in this context and I am particularly pleased that so many of our last cohort of MSc students are remaining so connected with us. Congratulations to all of you – it is such an achievement.

Thank you too to everyone in the systemic community who has responded to the invitation IFT has sent out to get involved in our activities this year. So many people have gone over and above to contribute and respond to the invitation to make new connections, or remake old ones. Alan Cooklin and Gill Gorell-Barnes have sent me some wonderful material documenting the launch of IFT over 40 years ago, and it is striking to see the connections through – from the original intention and mission to spread the systemic ‘word’, to the responses I have seen this year from people wanting to develop our organisation’s contribution to the profession. Thank you to all of you – it is remarkable to see our profession in action and what we can do when we work together. One example is here:

Creating inclusive conversations: building learning cultures and communities of practice:
We continue to be reminded of our pledge to oppose racism and hate and increase our opportunities to create inclusive conversations around aspects of difference. I am delighted that this week we are launching our Communities of Practice focusing on the social ‘graces’ and I cannot thank Sonia Kalia and Nadir Khan enough for their work. Thank you too to those people who have volunteered to facilitate the groups alongside Sonia and Nadir – we are lucky enough to have: Nana Bonsu, Sharon Bond, Nadia Galvani, Vanessa Walker, Carol Halliwell, Hilary Dixon, Rebecca Infanti-Milne, Penny Denny, Emma Sales, Joseph Metcalf-McQueeney, Lydia Fransham, Marie Otton, Roice Durand, Beth Levy, Christina Eidler, Zahra Akram, Natalie Weaver, and Peter Ball. 

I am so looking forward to seeing people getting involved and really excited to see what comes out of the groups:

Celebrating Barry Mason’s work:
We had a wonderful day celebrating the impact of Barry’s work with him on the 13th November. We had an opportunity to thank him especially from IFT for supporting the organisation so strongly over so many years.  We are delighted that so many people in this country and internationally joined us to describe the influence of his practice, writing, teaching, supervising and presence in their working lives, as well as the impact he has had on people as a friend. There was a lot of laughter, some tears, and a great deal of learning. Thank you to all who participated. 

If you attended the event we would like to invite you to send a reflection or a message that we will include in a summary of the day. Please send them to:

The AFT publishing group has agreed that there will be a special issue of Context reflecting Barry’s work and the celebrations of the day in August 2021.  If you are interested to contribute please contact

John Burnham and Barry delivered a wonderful supervision workshop this month to over 70 people and we thank them too for their long standing partnership in their continued contribution to IFT.

Creating inclusive Conversations in Social Care settings: 

Thank you to all of you who attended this event on 27th November. It was great to see you and spotlight this work. Thanks to Nick Pendry, Barbara McKay, Lynne Milton and Richard McKenny for rich presentations and for discussion facilitators who did a great job: Nana Bonsu, Rachel Hunniford, Roice Durrand, Nadia Galvani and Claire Wainwright. This day was originally intended as part of a 3 day celebration of work in social care, making the most of our old and new connections in local authorities, but in the current context something more focused and smaller was a better fit. We will return to this idea to develop our CPD topics within in social care concerns more widely in the New Year as attendees let us know how much they valued the day. 

2021 CPD ‘shake up’

We have been taking advantage of the opportunities of on-line training and feedback from you, and while we continue to offer the great days you enjoy so much, we are going to be offering a different kind of CPD from IFT next year too. 

You can now do short courses delivered by experts particular topic areas – Buy 1 or all 4 to get 25% off! 

The first course is Reflective Systemic work with Eating Disorders.  We are very excited to have Viv Gross, Shila Rashid, Sylvia Metzer, Marilyn Brennan and Tom Jewell sharing their knowledge and expertise with us. 

The second course will be on working systemically in in-patient adolescent settings with  John Burnham, Hannah Sherbersky, Matthew Ganda, John Cavanagh and Simon Shattock on 5 Friday mornings in February March, April and May.  These will be on the website soon. 

Not to be missed!

We are delighted to welcome Taiwo Afuape on Monday 18th January presenting:  A Radical Systemic Approach to Trauma. This will be of interest to all of you working in and with educational settings. Taiwo is well known for her work on trauma and in particular liberation practices. This workshop deconstructs traditional models of trauma and offers new systemic insights into working in this area:

New Book Events:
As a new addition to our CPD offerings we will be hosting a celebration of two new systemic books: 

These events will be a chance to meet the chapter contributors and are free, simply register through the website.  We hope to be doing more of these throughout the year.  

We have a lot planned for later in the year so also look out for more CPD news. Presenters include:  Arlene Vetere and Rudi Dallos, Hendrix Hammond, Juma Woodhouse, Derek Nasseri, Reenee Singh and Janet Reibstein, Matthew Selekman, Karl Tomm and many more.

Training Courses and On-line working
We have agreed that we will continue our courses on-line for another term, hoping that we will be back to face to face teaching after Easter. We will continue to review this as we go along and incorporate our learning from our on-line settings – we have learnt so much. 

Seasons greeting to you and looking forward to working with you in lots of different ways next year – see you in January – hopefully in our new home. . 

Warmest wishes to you, 


And all of us at IFT

Other News