Director Update January 2022

New Year: Keeping moving!

I last updated you in September 2021 when we were ready to welcome the new trainees to the building. We had a great first term, with new trainees and new tutors, as well as welcoming old friends to our great new location.

Our lovely lunch spot…..St. Dunstans in the East

Inductions for new students this year included wonderful presentations from Claire Dempster focusing on whiteness, including Rabia Malik talking with us about race and the learning journey. Joanne Collins wowed us with Race, Power and Reflexivity in research, and Gwyn Daniel on “Powerplays; adventures of a systemic therapist in drama, politics and activism”; Richard McKenny challenged us with an irreverant take on a classic paper; Philip Messent talked to us about our relationships to the written word and publication. A real highlight was welcoming Alan Cooklin and Gill Gorrell- Barnes who treated us to a journey through the history of IFT and the relevance of that history for our current trainings. All such rich food for thought. What a start that all was to the academic year, and we set the tone for the trainings this year to work hard to continue to extend ourselves in attending to, and working with, issues of power within our practice in all our activities.

We managed the role that government guidelines played in shaping our work, like wearing masks in training groups, and ‘spacing out’. Despite the added layers of complexity, trainees, tutors, supervisors, and our staff really enjoyed being togethter in the space, and connecting there. We had a lot of feedback on the building and the ways in which the space was facilitative of our core values of hospitality, welcome, and dialogue. We were even able to hold a celebratory event for our cohort of qulaifying practitioners who had not met for over two years, and who completed their training and qualifications online. We treated them to a CPD from Dickon Bevington, Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, who talked about: Remembering the mind in the system: lessons from working with marginalised people with multiple needs using AMBIT.  We had a lot of fun celebrating their achievements face to face:

At the end of the term we were back online again, and while we would prefer to be together of course, we have learnt so much about online learning that both staff and students adjusted remarkably. We’ll be back together this week.

In the last update I outlined how much work we had been doing on our service reviews, ensuring ‘fit for the future’ governance in all areas of our infrastructure, and the last part of this has been a ‘deep dive’ audit. We have delayed the AGM until Easter to wait until this is done, and in the context of being online again. So hopefully we will be able to be together and hold the AGM around Easter time and we can welcome you to the building, including a celebration of Barry Mason’s legacy. Do come and visit us then – we hope to have a real celebration (I am loathed to promise a party right now). Watch this space!

We ended the year by saying goodbye to Chip Chimera who has contributed so much to IFT over many years. Having trained here completing in 1992, she returned in 1997, and since 2005 held a number of roles as a permanent member of staff, including being instrumental to setting up the Child-Focused Foundation and Intermediate level courses that are still the only courses of their kind at that level of systemic training – a unique contribution. She has held the CPD programme with huge commitment over many years and welcomed many influential people to IFT and enabled us to learn from them. Chip remains an important contributor to IFT and we look forward to our continued connection, particularly through our links with colleagues in Oslo with whom Chip has a particular affiliation.

We are delighted to welcome Ruth Boateng to our staff team. Ruth has a role in helping our visitors to the building feel at home, and in sharpening and enhancing our social media presence. Ruth has already made a real splash with our social media and you may have seen our Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook posts, and we are so glad that Ruth is here to share her skills and enthusiasm for the work with us.

Follow us on our social media pages:

Barry Mason’s Birthday

Barry would have been 74 on Tuesday 7th February, and Jane Tilston has shared with us how trips to Norfolk, walking and bird watching were a favourite celebration.
We will continue to remember Barry and his contributions to IFT at the AGM – dates to be announced, and have plans going forward to continue his legacy – so watch this space.

Goodbye and thank you to Dora Black
We were all very sad to learn that Dora Black, psychiatrist and family therapist, born 2 July 1932, died on 16 December 2021. Dora was a founder member of IFT and remained involved with our work ever since. Her continued challenge “but what about the children?” in situations where young people’s emotional needs were not being considered still rings loudly. She became an international expert in helping children where one parent, nearly always the father, had killed the other. Her work on trauma, and focus on work with bereaved children including her seminal and influential book When Father Kills Mother, was hugely important to family therapy as well as in the field of psychiatry. Dora attended many of our events, and rang me every so often to ask about our work and express her support for what we were doing. She last rang me in October to say that she liked both the new logo and how the building was looking. I am sorry she did not get to visit us, but her legacy lives on as we benefit from her work, and also from our connection with her close family friend, Marc Raven, whose presence on our board, where his knowledge and skill adds a great of support to IFT, is much appreciated.

Cutting Edge CPD
Our CPD offer will focus on continuing the ‘afterlife’ of conversations – extending our CPD offer into providing forums for people to meet and discuss the impact of CPD on their practice, as well as what we can learn from this to enhance our systemic trainings.

This month we welcome Harry Aponte who will contribute to our Communities of Practice with a focus on faith and spirituality and whose subsequent workshops will follow this theme later in the year. We are very excited to be welcoming Nancy Boyd-Franklin at the end of February who will work with us on addressing racial trauma in our work with families. We are glad to be able to offer free follow up workshops for different professions such as Jessica Anglian D’Christian speaking with nurses; Rukiya Jemmott and Julia Jude working with systemic psychotherapists, and Nick Pendry offering a space for social workers.  We hope to create a rich ongoing dialogue that will enable us to continue Nancy’s invitation to think about racial trauma in our work.

Alastair Pearson will continue his education communities of practice that has real momentum, working with schools.

We are honoured to welcome Harlene Anderson in March Creating and Sustaining Generative Conversations.

Training courses on Non-Violent Resistance come highly recommended and we are revisiting the narrative Attachment Trainings with Rudi Dallos later in the year, and Alan Cooklin working with parental mental health, with details to come – so watch this space.

Details of all of these can be found here:

Thank you for your support of us. I welcome any conversations about ways in which you think IFT can continue to help the profession move forward. Please talk to me anytime.

Warm wishes to you all,



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