Director’s Update April 2020

What a time it is! For the duration of last term, since our move from Stephenson Way, IFT has been hard at work ensuring all our courses continued without disruption while getting the new premises in Great Tower Street ready for our arrival this April in time for the new term. This was an incredible achievement of staff and students and we learnt a great deal through the process. We were excited anticipating the potential of our new home, but sadly, for obvious reasons, we have had to put the move on hold. IFT’s resilience is showing strongly again as we have worked tirelessly to ensure that our trainings can happen virtually and that there is a clear plan for all the training groups and families. It has been very moving to see how people have worked together to achieve this, and we are finding creative ways to meet the needs of trainees, and continue to deliver CPD, through virtual means. We are working closely with the Association of Family Therapy, and with other training providers, which increases our joint thinking around issues such as ethical frameworks and standards for practice. Even before the current lockdown, trainers, supervisors, tutors, the IFT team, students, and families, were showing remarkable flexibility and collaborative creativity, and I can’t thank people enough for how they are responding now to the added challenges. It won’t be a surprise to know that it turns out that our systemic sensibilities are very useful indeed!

I will update you here on the different elements of our activity:

‘In-house’ Courses:

The academic elements of all our courses (Foundation, Intermediate, MSc, and Supervision) have carried on through virtual means without interruption. People are finding new ways of being together to learn, and we are finding out as we go along about the most effective and useful ways to deliver training in this context. Qualifying and supervision courses have not been able to continue their clinical work in their groups, and AFT and the University are responding flexibly to ensure that these elements of the trainings can be completed at a later date. A large part of what we are attending to is how trainees are impacted in their working contexts, and how coming together to train systemically can be a real resource and support.

Training courses with our partner agencies in local authorities, Relate, NHS, charity and other settings:

We have given all our learning partners the opportunity to continue their trainings virtually. Some have temporarily postponed their trainings, and some are carrying on. How they decide this depends mostly on their current capacities, and the demands on their services in the current situation.

Support for trainees, training partners, families and frontline staff:

We have made an offer of support to all our partners for their staff, whether they are currently learning with us or not, and this seems to have been well received and is a way that IFT can be helpful at this time, aside from formal training.

Trainees have been offered regular groups for support and reflection that they are using well, and it is good to be connected with them outside of their academic conversations and understand what they are facing in their work contexts enabling them to support each other and get support from staff.

IFT tutor Lucy Robertson-Ritchie has established a system for responding should front line workers need support in these stressful times, IFT is part of Help for Front Line Workers and requests for support can be made directly here:

Each family who were working with us has a plan that is overseen by group supervisors.


Thank you to our CPD training providers for working with us to enable us to continue the programme. We have arranged with most of our workshop presenters to deliver a shorter version (3 hours) of their workshop via virtual means.  These will now be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with a short comfort break sometime during the morning.  Participants will receive 3 hours of CPD for each of the sessions, and these will be offered at the reduced rate of £40 per session.

The first of these workshops, the Three Helpings of Supervision being held on April 29th, 30th and 1st May are now fully booked, but future ones will follow the same format so please contact Angela Vanriel, our workshops organiser should you wish to register for later dates.

Looking to the Future:

We are still excited and pleased with the potential of our new premises in Great Tower Street and will be there as soon as we are able. Soon we will be giving you the opportunity to be part of the building in a very real way. We will be creating a wall of names of our members and supporters past and present and hope this will tell a real story of IFT’s past we are bringing with us, and the future we can look forward to. Look out for how you can get your name up on our walls: coming soon.

We will also be asking people to contribute through crowd funding to a collaborative art project that will allow us to furnish the building with amazing art works through collaborating with a charity supporting artists with different needs. Watch this space, for your chance to help make IFT’s space beautiful.

Warmest wishes to all of you and hope you all find some ways to rest over the upcoming break.

Dr Rachel Watson


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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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