Director Update September 2020

Where did the summer go?! We are well into our preparations for the new academic year and with our learning partner agencies there is renewed vigour in working together to press on in understanding how systemic practice can help us to face challenges and make the most of new opportunities in our different agency contexts. There is so much enthusiasm and inventiveness in local authorities, schools, and NHS settings, and we are enjoying talking and working with colleagues on how systemic practice might be applied and impact upon their work. We have new initiatives, for example we are delighted to be working jointly with NAFSIYAT and the Royal College of Psychiatrists on a training project about the Mental Health of Muslim Young People. Exciting times!

John Byng-Hall (1937-2020)
Founder member of IFT and pioneer of family therapy, John was an inspiration. An associate of Bowlby he weaved attachment ideas with concepts of family myths and scripts. His writings and teaching on his subjects of interest profoundly impacted the field and are as important today as when he first presented and wrote about them. We will celebrate his life and work jointly with the Tavistock later in the year.

New Co-Director and new staff
I am delighted to warmly welcome Shila Rashid who will be joining IFT in November as CoDirector. Shila has over thirty years’ experience in both the voluntary and statutory sectors. She initially trained in Family and Couple Therapy in 1992 at The Institute of Psychiatry, followed by further training at The Tavistock Centre from 1993-1995. She undertook her systemic supervision training at IFT from 2000-2002 and is also a qualified CYP IAPT Supervisor.

Shila came to the UK as a child with her family from Bangladesh in 1973. Her personal experiences of navigating multiple racial, cultural and linguistic contexts and professional experience of different systemic training institutes have engendered in her an appreciation of and commitment to diversity, multiplicity and intersectionality. She has published several articles in Context on issues of race and culture and contributed a chapter entitled, ‘Visible Differences: individual and collective risk-taking in working cross-culturally’ in Barry Mason and Alice Sawyerr’s influential book Exploring the Unsaid. Since 2015, she has been involved with other UK trainers in providing systemic training and supervision to psychologists in Dhaka University, Bangladesh. She is currently involved in a research project about eating disorders and in an international research proposal about the impact of COVID on the mental well-being of healthcare professionals in Bangladesh. Alongside her professional passions, her personal passions centre on her family, extended family and beloved friends. She is married and has three grown-up sons, and is already enjoying the pleasures of being a grandparent! We are looking forward to an increasingly shared and diverse leadership model that will enable IFT to move forward into our ever shifting landscapes, face the challenges and grasp the opportunities ahead with increased flexibility.

We are also delighted to welcome new trainers and supervisors to our in-house courses this year: Joanne Jackson, Jane Willis, Rose Akobundu-Sampson, Helen Dominique, Heleni Andreadi. You can see who is in all of our teams and find out about tutors, new or not, here:

Anti-racist practices and building learning cultures
We continue to be reminded of our pledge to oppose racism and hate. We have continued our conversations with staff and students about their experiences of IFT, and are busy implementing our actions. We are committed to work on areas where we can make sustainable changes that will impact on people’s experience for the better. Our current MSc students have contributed to reviewing our in-house course handbooks, and volunteered for mentoring of new cohorts of students, and IFT staff and students are working on ensuring that issues of power and diversity are always foregrounded in all our conversations, deliberately and purposefully. We have reviewed the courses curriculum, and changed our course structures in line with our agreed actions. IFT is for all of us, and all of us can be part of how the organisation grows. Get in touch if you have ideas and would like to speak about how you can be part of our work or, like some other organisations have done, contact us to explore how systemic practice might help you to privilege issues of power difference in your own organisation.

Our online presentations were very successful in the spring and summer. We are continuing to provide online workshops into the autumn and beyond. We hope it will be possible to operate from our new premises soon but for the moment we will attend to safety and continue online. We hope to be able to continue to offer workshops online even when the restrictions are lifted as it opens up the possibility for people to attend from anywhere in the world.

We are really looking forward to benefiting from Joanne Hipplewith’s expertise in working with families on-line, training all our MSc students and Supervisors, in preparation for the new term, and we will be making this available as CPD, alongside on-line supervision and how to run inclusive meetings on – line.

Following his popular ‘Cut the Cr*p’ presentation on language and therapy, Ged Smith is following up with a presentation on ‘1.5 Order Therapy’ an examination of power in the therapy room.

Karen Partridge joins us to present a full day supervision workshop that should not be missed.

Paolo Bertrando and Claudia Lini will present their latest work on the dialogical approach on 22 and 23 October. Our Imagining the future of Social Care presentation will now be different than originally advertised. Nick Pendry will be among several presenters for this warm-up on 27 th November to a bigger event next year.

John Burnham and Barry Mason will present their annual supervision workshop on 4th December.

Here’s the link to all of these:

In the news:
IFT staff have been in the news, helping people to understand the impact of stress on families. Sonia Kalia on adults as family ‘peacemakers’:; and Simon Shattock on the impact of lockdown:

Training Courses and Premises:
We have been delighted to confirm places on our new courses at Year 1, 2, and the new MSc and are nearly ready for the start of the new term. It is such an exciting time. It has been frustrating not to be able to welcome people to our new premises in Great Tower Street for the start of term but for everyone’s safety and comfort we have decided to run the first term online. Our online working has been very successful and fits our systemic ability to set clear contexts for our work, and so we are confident that it will be as stimulating a term as ever. We will continue to review this, and hope to be able to see families and students in Great Tower Street alongside our digital ways of working as soon as possible.

Communities of Practice
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, Faith, Working with older adults, and working with children who are looked after in local authority care.

IFT can support a Community of Practice on themes, by:

  • Hosting you as a group, helping to get in touch with colleagues who have interests in the area of practice
  • Providing a context for you to discuss practice, the evidence-base, research potential and links to training and how we teach and train students in the area of practice.
  • Hosting training developed by the group to disseminate systemic thinking and practice in the area more widely as CPD
  • Considering how students trainings can be linked including teaching on different level courses, and also how IFT can support students on clinical placements
  • Considering how IFT groups might be involved in working with the client group in question and contributing to research in best practice in this area.

It is great to be in these conversations about the part you think IFT can have in the landscape of our profession and how you can be part of it.

Good luck to all of our students, tutors, and supervisors starting courses this September, welcome to you all. Exciting times!

Warmest wishes to you, Rachel

Other News

IFT Members Publications

Gross, V. & Goldin, J. (2008) Dynamics and Dilemmas in Working with Families in Inpatient CAMHS. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry Hildebrand, J. & Markovic,

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IFT connections ‘down under’

We are pleased to announce that IFT has formed a ‘twinning’ relationship with The Bouverie Centre, Melbourne. The Bouverie Centre is the leading family therapy

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Agency Based Training at IFT

Agency based training has become a significant pathway for the Institute to share systemic ideas and practices with Social Care and Health professionals. Since the

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