Leadership Update





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.


Challenging oppression and using relationships as resources for hope and social justice


  For family therapy and systemic practice to:

  • Support all people to challenge the oppressive and difficult aspects of their lives using relationships as resources
  • Transform people’s relationships and circumstances for the better
  • Ensure that an understanding of how oppression impacts our lives and the development of inclusive and equitable relationships and institutions, is common place

We strive to:

  • Develop a diverse community of people who are passionate about how systemic ideas can create personal, interpersonal and social solutions
  • Use our active and international community to develop and deliver high quality, responsive and cutting edge therapy, teaching and training to people in any setting
  • Contextualise people’s difficulties, strengthen relationships and promote a more just, equitable and inclusive society.

IFT values:

  • Providing therapy for individuals, couples and families, and using systemic ideas
    to work with larger systems (such
    as organisations and schools) and intervening at different levels of context
  • Promoting the systemic approach as a world-view, a set of practices, and a way of addressing social inequality; i.e. a force for transformation rather than conformity
  • Meaningful inclusion and ‘diversity’ of peoples, ideas and interventions, that actively seeks the views, knowledge and expertise of the most marginalised
  • Finding creative alternatives to the traditional ways of operating that are continuing to fail communities, shrink our imaginations and hamper our ability to meaningfully progress our profession

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.


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.

IFT has many wonderful teachers, trainers, trainees, and contributors, too many to name here (!) and we 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.


As you may know IFT is ending its relationship at the end of this academic year with the University of Bedfordshire. IFT has sought support from AFT to award qualifying level training outside of constraining university partnerships that would normally award an MSc to this qualification. Although AFT and the AFT board met with us at short notice a number of times and convened some meetings to explore our proposal, which we were very grateful for, AFT felt that they were “unable to either endorse or block” our proposal, as following their usual process, “AFT only accredits new courses retrospectively”, and they were “unable to give any assurance on a course that has yet to be written or delivered.”. This means that we will be exploring our own process to accredit the course directly with UKCP, although no firm decisions have been made.

This is a radical change, and one we think is necessary and important for the profession, and certainly for IFT. No decisions have yet been made but we think this an important move.

University fees are prohibitive to our sustainability, and universities run so much more as businesses than they used to, so the support that is provided for our investment has greatly diminished. For example, for us this meant reduced learning resources and support for students, and little external moderation of our work, and no support with standards submissions. Courses are also constrained
in content. While we acknowledge this s not the experience of all training courses our work with potential partners has not supported the changes we want to make as a small training provider hoping to widen access to the profession. While for many people it is important to achieve an MSc, many people just want to train, and qualify as a psychotherapist.

We have done our homework and are convinced that we have answered AFT’s useful and legitimate concerns robustly, they were:

a) External moderation: how will IFT show our equivalence without university moderation?

We believe we will be more robustly moderated using
a advisory board made up of different organisations
who are interested in helping us such as other training organisations, higher education standards organisations, and Institutes within academic centres.

b) Will NHS grading’s and equivalence to psychology will be threatened because of this?

Not according to the NHS if we can show equivalence; if we can prove equivalence the NHS has said this is not what they are concerned with.

c) Will we be creating a two Tier system with some people viewed as ‘better than’ others?

We believe this is in the gift of the profession and organisations such as AFT. We are the only psychotherapy modality where there is only one route in, through one organisation’s accreditation. Other psychotherapies do not have this constraint and do not experience tiered systems.

At IFT we think we will attract people into the training who think currently these courses are not ‘for them’, and increase representation in the profession that is so important for families of different backgrounds. We were not convinced that the HEE funding that was given for training posts in the NHS resulted in increasing access and diversity – our experience was rather the reverse. Approximately 16% of family therapy posts are currently unfilled in the NHS, and we are certainly at risk in different settings of our posts being taken by other professions.

We believe it is time for IFT to lead on this change – some of
this is economically necessary for us, and it is in line with the direction we want to take as independent and able to work
with diversity and inclusivity in a meaningful way that creates real change. Smaller providers won’t be able to provide family therapy training at all if the current climate continues including the constraints placed upon us. We believe there should be more than one route into our profession.


In October we remembered Barry through a face to face event, joined by people online, and enjoyed sharing stories and memories of Barry and his profound influence on our work.

At the AGM on 1st December we were delighted Jane Tilson could join us and support us to present two awards:

The Barry Mason Prize for research and the Barry Mason prize for clinical practice. Barry very generously left funds for us to support students through training and we are keen to remember Barry and continue his work. Hopefully, IFT would be able to continue these prizes into the future once the bequest had come to an end. We looked at how the trainees have been aligned with Barry’s work and core values particularly that of working with and across difference and ‘relational risk taking’.

As a panel we awarded these having asked supervisors of clinical work and research to nominate, and used the dissertation and clinical viva to also inform the award. For the research prize the prize holder will receive a book, and support through individual tutorials to enable publication over the following year, and help to develop the research into a CPD event.

The panel fully agreed and while we read 5 outstanding pieces of work that were nominated we chose:

By Geneva Kiarie.

For the clinical prize we will award a book and a CPD learning event, and mentoring, to support clinical practice development over the following year, and help to develop an area of clinical interest into a CPD event.

We were delighted to award the Barry Mason award for Clinical work to: Emma Balogun

Congratulations to both graduates. In this picture from left: Nana, Sumita, Emma, Geneva and Taiwo (look carefully you may spot one of our founders Alan Cooklin in the background!)

At the time of application to new courses next year we will open applications for a fund to support students to undertake year 2 of training.


We will soon a announcing our Leadership Course and Nana Bonsu is bringing her experience, skills, and energy to what will be a wonderful course.

We will also be announcing our learning programme trainings that are short and focused on cutting edge practice, with clear learning outcomes about practice, or learning from research. We will have this programme out soon and it will start in March on the theme of JUSTICE – including the long awaited supervision conference.


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 completed 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. We also continue our work providing training through e-learning to family lawyers – we have learnt a lot through undertaking the project and we are pleased with the results.


As part of our continuing review, we are in the process of reviewing the website, and we would have liked this to go a little quicker! 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!

We are very thankful for the progress we have made thus far, and excited for the future, and we thank you wholeheartedly for your support.

We know there is a lot of change and these are uncertain times – we are not alone in this as an organisation. If you have any questions, comments, ideas, or contributions you wish to make, please do talk to us.

Rachel Watson, Taiwo Afuape, Nana Bonsu, Sumita Dutta, Ashley Reid


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.

Read More »