Director’s Update

Leadership Changes and Onwards into the Future

New Shared Leadership


Taiwo Director:Training

Nana Director:Leadership  

Sumita Director: International Learning

Rachel Director: Strategy Partnerships

Robyn Business Support Manager: Training

Annamaria Business Support Manager: Clinical

Nadia Director of Operations

Ashley COO: Chief Operating Officer

This September we start the new academic year with a brand-new leadership team and structure. In the last 3 years I have enjoyed as the Director of IFT we have aimed to create a context where as many interested people as possible can be involved in IFT, and where those who work to our vision, mission, and core values can thrive. So many people have responded to this invitation, and I am grateful to you all for helping to create this ‘culture of contribution’ as Barry mi ght have said. With our revised infrastructure, and this culture as a platform, it is possible now for the leadership to be shared with people who can bring skills and expertise to areas that we want to develop and grow. For me it means spending some time back in the NHS, helping the development of the systemic model in the new Cambridge Children’s Hospital, connecting with families more again, while still being in a director’s role as part of this exciting leadership team.

At IFT we want to develop our trainings with positive action to increase diversity and inclusivity of people, ideas, and contexts where we practice. We have invited and co-ordinated systemic professionals to contribute to IFT as a place where we can influence the future of the profession for the good of as many people as possible. We want to develop areas of training that are directly connected to wider systemic areas of influence such as community and social justice initiatives, and ecological action, and remain robust and rigorous in our teaching of systemic family therapy.

All our new Directors bring a wealth of experience and their area of expertise to IFT. For the next year we are lucky enough to be working with this team in a joint leadership model of working:

Taiwo Afuape

Director: Training

Being a Nigerian British-born working-class woman is central to Taiwo’s work and IFT has been greatly influenced by Taiwo’s work, including her books and articles with colleagues that are central to many of our courses:

Taiwo has training in Narrative Therapy and is a Clinical Psychologist and Systemic Family Therapist with more than eighteen years post- qualification experience.

Previously Taiwo has set up community psychology services for transitional populations – women escaping domestic violence, homeless people, people misusing substances, travelling communities of Roma and Irish heritage and refugee people; has worked in a Human Rights charity for survivors of torture; managed an adult mental health Systemic Service in Newham and was Principal Systemic Family Therapist in an adult Psychology and Psychotherapy service in Kensington, offering training in diploma level systemic psychotherapy as well as family and couple therapy for adults with mental health problems and more recently worked in Camden CAMHS as a Systemic Family Therapist and Lead Clinical Psychologist. She has most recently been leading in Newham CAMHS. Taiwo brings a wealth of experience to our new courses including working with universities and AFT to ensure we move with the times and into the future for systemic family therapy including working with social justice in action with families and communities and developing community models of working within our courses.

Director: International Learning

Sumita is a Systemic Family Psychotherapist and supervisor. She has worked in various NHS child and adult mental health settings for the last 24 years. Most recently she has been the Consultant Systemic Family Psychotherapist in Hertfordshire CAMHS.

She has published a range of systemic literature on clinical practice and supervision as well as co-editing a training manual for professionals in ‘race’ and culture. For many years she was the Chair of Graduate Certificate courses at IFT as well as teaching on satellite and supervision courses.

Sumita has a particular interest in how we conceptualise and work with modern family formations. She is re-joining IFT to pursue her passion for expanding systemic ideas across professional and geographical borders and will focus on the cutting edges of systemic practice worldwide.

Nana Bonsu

Director: Systemic Leadership

Nana is Head of Service for Adolescents and Clinical Services in Wandsworth Children’s services.

Nana is a qualified social worker, family and systemic psychotherapist and systemic supervisor. Nana has twenty years’work experience in both statutory children’s services and CAMHS. Nana has a proven track record of developing and implementing clinical services within a statutory context. The positive impact of the transformative practice that Nana has developed has resulted in several positive outcomes, including staff being supported to undertake systemic training up to master’s level, the creation of

family therapy clinics in communities, reflective group supervision, and the co-location of family and systemic psychotherapists alongside social workers and practitioners. Nana has significant experience of creating the infrastructure required for the embedment of systemic practice to flourish. Nana’s work has been noted in several Ofsted inspections.

Nana has experience of contributing to the development of successful leadership courses, participants have included leaders from across several domains: local authorities, health, education, and the voluntary sector. Nana has experience of lecturing for the Institute of Family Therapy, The Tavistock and Portman, and the Association of Family Therapy. Nana is keen to develop safe dialogical spaces, inviting curiosities that enable infinite possibilities to be created.

Nana is extremely enthusiastic in developing the course that enables leaders to consider many aspects of what constitutes leadership and performance, including attending to ideas from both a personal and professional standpoint. Nana has written the following article: Bonsu, N. (2020). How can we further embed systemic social work while working in this way? Murmurations: Journal of Transformative Systemic Practice, 3(1).

Rachel Watson

Director: Strategy and Partnerships

Rachel comes from a northern white-British background and is a mother. She is interested in how systemic practice takes place using dialogue to create inclusive conversations. She completed her doctoral research at the Tavistock on this topic and has introduced the concept of Jointly Created Authority from Conversational Analysis literature, showing how examining the minutiae of talk can invite understanding of how power operates at different levels, and has recently published this work in the Journal of Family Therapy. Rachel’s current areas of interest include working with complex situations with multi-agency networks where risks are high; and using systemic practice to address dilemmas of leaders and managers in complex organisations, particularly at times of transformation.

Rachel is a Consultant Systemic Psychotherapist working to develop systemic approaches in a new Children’s Hospital in Cambridge with a focus on adolescent in-patient work.

Rachel Watson is an experienced systemic family psychotherapist, supervisor, trainer, and leader. She has been Director of IFT since September 2019, during which time the organisation has moved premises, weathered a pandemic, and undertaken significant restructuring to provide a platform for joint leadership, and for the core values of IFT to be delivered in action.

Ashley Reid

Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Before joining IFT in 2001 Ashley spent over 30 years working in the finance sector as a financial analyst, money manager and team leader. He also has board-level experience, having been a trustee and deputy chair for a large multi-academy trust for number of years.

He is adept assessing and managing business and financial risk, operating in complex regulatory environments, and implementing robust governance and oversight procedures.
Ashley’s role in to oversee the managerial, operational, and administrative process in the Institute, and in so doing ensure that it runs smoothly.

Robyn Galloway

Senior Business Manager

Robyn is the Senior Business Manager with oversight of all the administrative elements of IFT courses.

Having grown up in South Africa, Robyn has a great fondness for the outdoors and nature. It is also where she studied Psychology and English at the University of the Witwatersrand before deciding to spend a few years teaching in both Johannesburg and South Korea before she moved to London. After a short few monthsâ€TM teaching in London the change of career began into the admin behind teaching, and her interest in organisational development and human resources.

Annamaria Papayova
Senior Business Manager for Clinical Practice

Annamaria believes it is essential we take care of our mental health and change “the hustle culture” of our era that oftentimes contributes to burn out; and cultivate a more diverse and sustainable way of working and leading. She often works with trainees on our courses on aspects of well-being.

Annamaria is the lead for clinical administration and works in partnership with Robyn to enable smooth running of IFT courses. She helps families connect with therapists and has oversight of many courses with clinical related elements. As a Boundary Coach in her spare time, she works with female entrepreneurs and runs well being meetups.

Nadia Tosic

Director of Operations

Over her many years with the organisation, Nadia has been involved in all aspects of the organisations activities and is currently focusing on our satellite courses and membership. She can use her historical knowledge and expertise about IFT in every area we work in .

Other news:

What a lot has been happening since the last update! We were delighted to see the feedback for all our courses being so positive this year, and have really enjoyed seeing people’s learning and development over the time they have been with us, enjoying being together in the building, as well as making the most of the online training and therapy we have become so practiced in. We recognise that there is still a strong ripple effect from the COVID pandemic in that people have been ill themselves, lost loved ones, struggled with pressures of work contexts, and struggled with the emotional impact of structural inequalities that show no signs of abating with significant impact on families we work with. Still, trainees and tutors have been engaging with how systemic ideas can help us in uncertain times and there have been many moving examples of how people have been sustained by the courses, as well as been incredible in their commitment to learning and developing relationships to help us keep on keeping on.

Elisabeth Smith

In June it was with heavy heart that we let you know in a separate message that our dear friend and colleague Elisabeth Smith had died. Elisabeth managed the membership for the Institute for many years, and all those who were lucky enough to meet her knew her as deeply kind, with a fastidious eye for detail, and a keen intelligence. She had retired only months before from the Institute and is sorely missed.

New Staff

We have new tutors arriving for our Year 1, Year 2 and MSc courses this year and are so pleased to be welcoming new tutors Jessica Anglian D’Christian, Emma Sales, Jo Chamberlain, Shaila Sheikh, and Claire Dempster.

IFT has many wonderful teachers, trainers, trainees, and contributors, too many to name here (!) and I would like to thank all those people who have contributed so significantly to our development in the last three years and helped to create this platform for the future. IFT’s tutors and trainees have shown how much systemic professionals are keen to extend the way we collaborate to address who, how, and where we train people to make a real difference to the future of the profession. We make it possible now for those who are interested in teaching and training to work with experienced people to gain new skills and confidence in systemic training and build on our sense of team in our trainers and tutors who work so hard and with great generosity for IFT. If you are interested in joining us, please do talk to me.

Last term we welcomed two very experienced systemic psychotherapists Bhawna Bharakda, Joanne Jackson to the IFT in- house team:

Bhawna will be teaching on the supervision course next year, alongside Karen Burgess: Advanced Diploma in the Supervision of Family

and Systemic Psychotherapy – Institute of Family Therapy (

Bhawna has a particular role in reviewing our course materials to ensure they are as up to date and align with our vision and mission to promote anti-racist, anti-oppressive practice and are as inclusive as possible and mirror our learning community and the families we serve.

Bhawna is an experienced Systemic Family Psychotherapist, Supervisor and Tutor. She has written and taught systemic courses all over the UK for over 5 years and has supervised various training clinics. As well as joining IFT this year Bhawna was most recently the Principal Family Therapist at City and Hackney CAMHS and works with the Centre for Systemic Social Work. She sits on the Professional Affairs Committee (PAC) for AFT and is a reviewer for the Journal of Family Therapy.


Joanne is bringing her wealth of skill to support all our courses and is this year’s Chair of Year 2. Joanne will focus on the area of clinical work and skill development for trainees in clinical placement, and for graduates who want to carry on their development once they have left trainings and attend our new post- qualification course – more on that here. COURSE POST QUALIFICATION CONSOLIDATION COURSE – Institute of Family Therapy (

Joanne has over 25 years’ experience of working with children and families. She has worked within Child and Adolescent Services since 2000, predominantly undertaking intensive parenting assessments and treatments of children and their families, preparing reports for the courts, and appearing as an expert witness. Much of her court work has included assessing children’s emotional, behavioural, social functioning, parental capacity for change, and relationships of families where there have been extreme discord and inadequate parenting that have impacted upon child development.

Joanne was employed as a Family Therapist/Social Worker, at the Marlborough Family Service and the Anna Freud Centre where she worked in the Specialist Trauma and Maltreatment Service (STAMS). A branch to her work includes working with families with very serious and complex parental conflict and alienation, including contact disputes. She has been teaching in the field of family therapy since 2006 and was a significant contributor to IFT courses before joining the team more permanently.

Office and Marketing Business Support:

We also welcomed Grace Boateng who has a role in helping our visitors to the building feel at home, and in sharpening and enhancing our social media presence. She brings her hospitality skills to welcome you to the building when you visit us and a wealth of knowledge about social media marketing.

Training family lawyers

In an area where we can have significant impact on families in need we are working on ReFLEx (Relational Family Law Excellence), a new and exciting joint-venture between the Institute and FLiP Faculty (, to develop and deliver a range of modular e-learning trainings for family lawyers in essential skills working in complex situations with people going through separation and divorce.

We have an exciting role in this area so do have a look if you are someone keen to grasp and develop the opportunity of taking systemic training into a new professional context. (https://

New Courses

This year we are launching a Post –Qualification Consolidation Course hoping to help newly qualified therapists negotiate the world of work as a systemic family therapist. This is an exciting systemic programme enabling participants to implement their training most effectively towards more advanced independent work and get bespoke support in specific areas of their professional journey. Recognising the needs of systemic graduates and the lack of advanced support courses available, IFT is proud and excited to introduce this course post-qualifying 8-month program. The course is designed to enable participants to upgrade their systemic experience, blending advanced skills development, personalised feedback, coaching and the opportunity to get support with their developing and independent practice. IFT is supporting systemic psychotherapists post qualification to implement their training in

different contexts most effectively. This includes continuing to use relational practice to develop personal and professional links and challenge themselves towards increasingly inclusive practice, prioritising managing issues of power and inviting inclusive conversations throughout.

You can already book on this for a November start: the core course costs £950 – a bargain. POST QUALIFICATION CONSOLIDATION COURSE – Institute of Family Therapy (

We will also be working on our Leadership and Management course and Nana Bonsu is bringing her experience, skills, and energy to what will be a wonderful course – so watch this space.

Learning partners and satellite courses

We continue to work to deliver systemic training to many different contexts and have partnership working with local authorities in Kent, Somerset, Harrow, Haringey, Newham, Barnet, Brent, Southampton Waltham Forest and Havering.

We have new satellite courses in other contexts including in the health service for teams working with children with disabilities and with a group working with families in Orthodox Jewish Communities.

IFT – University partnership:

This year will be the last year where IFT will be working with University of Bedfordshire. We are exploring different options to support our courses and working closely with AFT. We want to ensure our courses meet the needs of the profession going forward, including ensuring access for people from many different groups who represent the families we work with. Watch this space!

Learning Events and Conferences

Do not miss:

September: Rudi Dallos and colleagues training in September: SAFE: SYSTEMIC AUTISM-RELATED FAMILY EMPOWERMENT SAFE: Systemic Autism-related Family Empowerment – Institute of Family Therapy (

OCTOBER – SYLVIA METZER AND MARILYN BRENNAN Eating Disorder: No More Walking on Egg Shells – Institute of Family Therapy ( October we will be remembering Barry, and while the event face to face is full, you can apply to attend online: Remembering Barry Mason – Institute of Family Therapy (

November – we will be holding our joint supervision conference – 23.24.25th November – watch this space!

Continuing Tech Investment:

As part of our continuing review, we are in the process of reviewing the website, and so do bear with us, we know some of this is out of date – especially our staffing! we will be introducing new ways of booking onto courses through the website, and new abilities to stay touch more smoothly with all our members so watch this space and we will be in touch! Our next update will come from the joint leadership team. We thank you wholeheartedly for your support.

Rachel Watson





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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