Director Update January 2021

Happy New Year to you in these (still) strange times. I hope you are all finding ways to look after yourselves and each other in these complex days.

Remembering Barry Mason
We were sad to let you know that on Saturday 16th January Barry Mason died. He was an incredible supporter of this organisation and was still teaching, supervising, and examining with us 3 weeks before he died. You will all know how influential Barry was, of course, to the systemic profession as a whole, through his practice and writings. Some of you will also know how he enjoyed popping into IFT on his way past when we wasn’t working, to chat to Nadia and others about the progress of Liverpool in the football perhaps, or to give me a quiet supportive word. We are glad that we were able to hold the Festschrift in November to celebrate the impact of his work and Barry let us know how much he valued the day and so many colleagues were able to let him know how important his influence has been to them.

We are determined to continue his legacy through our work here and remember his strong wish to maintain quality and standards in the profession. We will remember his attention to rigour and exactness in the practice and use of theory; and his invitation to relational risk taking, particularly across areas of social difference, and some of the dialogue we continue to invite at IFT mirrors his commitment to continue to extend our practice in this area. Barry will be sadly missed, and all of us at IFT are thinking about his family and friends with love at a time where there is profound loss for them, and for us as an organisation and profession.

We held our AGM on 21st January. Thank you to those of you who attended. We were reflecting on the last AGM held in Islington one year ago, when I had been in post for 3 months and we were ‘in-between’ homes. We said at the time that we looked forward to welcoming members to our AGM in our new home, having a celebratory launch with learning partners there, and we have been on quite a journey since then, and still not able to use our building. So our AGM remained relatively low key, and this time on-line. It was great to talk about new partnerships, collaboration with new learning partners, and the plans we have for our trainings to work into new contexts this year – extending the reach of systemic practice – our mission.

What a vibrant programme we have for you! Before the end of April you can learn from:
John Burnham; Hannah Sherbersky; Karen Partridge; Hendrix Hammond; Derek Nasseri; Alan Cooklin; Gil Gorell Barnes; Ambeya Begum; Arlene Vetere; Rudi Dallos: Matthew Ganda; John Cavanagh; Simon Shattock; Tom Jewell; Sylvia Metzer, Marilyn Brennan; Viv Gross; Shila Rashid; Reenee Singh; Janet Reibstein; all before the end of April. Amazing – enjoy!
Workshops & Conferences – Institute of Family Therapy (

We are continuing to develop our use of technology, particularly in our CPD and trainings so if you have feedback on your experience do let us know.

In the News

Simon Shattock has been talking about mental health in mid-life here

Congratulations – some very welcome news for IFT graduates and members Brenda McHugh and Neil Dawson!

Congratulations to IFT graduate and member Brenda McHugh on her MBE

The pioneering school Family School, now Pears Family School, was set up by two IFT graduates- Neil Dawson and Brenda McHugh- using a systemic model both in design and staff delivery for vulnerable children. The school was judged outstanding by Ofsted, a true demonstration that systems training can bring about remarkable change in long established organisations such as the DFE and take family therapy to a new level in educational practice. Many professionals now use their IFT training to reach vulnerable families in a school context but this is the first Alternative Provision school to be modelled on a Systemic approach. The DFE are now asking- how can we get more Family Schools out there? The systemic training of all the teaching staff has been key and we are now training staff in AP schools and their mainstream colleagues in Devon, Cornwall, Essex, Yorkshire and London. Family classes based on their multi- family in schools’ model have been widely set up in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Greenland.

Helping to develop IFT, and feedback
Thank you to all those people who have been in touch to let me know how you think IFT is going on, and to those of you involved in our growing Communities of Practice.

We now have groups of people getting together to focus on different practice areas, to share their expertise, and to attend to the links between practice, training, research, and writing. There are exciting developments in the areas of Eating Disorders, working with children who are looked after in local authority care, and different group working on many aspects of social difference including: a) Faith & Spirituality b) Power, Privilege & Social Justice c) White privilege-white fragility d) Race & Gender e) Sexuality f) Class g) Age (working with older adults is a focus) h) Abilities  – these groups are working towards a joint event in September.

Do look at the website to see how you might get involved. It is so exciting when more and more people get involved, and our contribution to how the profession might grow and develop becomes even more apparent. Let me know if you have feedback about any aspect of our work, and if you have ideas – ‘blue sky’ thinking very welcome in these January days!

Take care and hope to ‘see’ you soon!

Other News

Members’ recent publications

Chimera, C. (2013) Getting our mojo working – the magic of action methods therapy through a neuroscience looking glass.  Context 126, April 2013 Dring, G.J.

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