Taught course

Systemic Psychotherapy

Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust · Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Entry requirements

In order to undertake this course, we ask that you:

  • Hold a professional qualification in social work, teaching, psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, nursing or an affiliated discipline, and an honours degree.
  • Have completed an intermediate level systemic/family therapy training course. Please note that as per the 4th edition of the AFT Blue Book, this is now a mandatory requirement - we can only accept applications from those who have completed or are in the process of completing an intermediate level training.
  • Are currently working in the field of mental health, social work/care or education, where you have regular contact with families and are able to practice systemic psychotherapy for a minimum of 100 hours annually while attending the course.

In addition, as part of your application, you are required to provide a short essay of 1,500 words, discussing one of the following subjects:

  1. Shame
  2. Power
  3. Responsibility
  4. Risk
  5. Protection
  6. Resilience.

You may venture as widely as you wish or stay close to the subject of therapy in your deliberations, but aim to include personal reflections and any systemic ideas that you connect to the theme. Your grasp of theoretical ideas and the ability to be self-reflexive will be considered. Please note that applicants are required to use Harvard referencing.

***If you do not have an undergraduate degree, or have completed your intermediate level training more than four years ago, please see below as you will have to complete a longer essay in place of this. You will only need to complete one essay as part of your application - if you are unsure what you need to complete then please contact us for confirmation.

Applicants without an undergraduate degree/who have completed their intermediate training more than four years ago

If you do not have an undergraduate degree, and/or have completed your systemic training more than four years ago, you can demonstrate equivalency by completing the following:

  • A 3,500 word essay discussing and critiquing a systemic theoretical idea of your choice. Your ideas must be up-to-date theoretically and you should demonstrate self-reflexivity. Please note that applicants are required to use Harvard referencing.
  • If you have completed your intermediate training more than four years ago you must also provide us with details of any relevant CPD courses you have undertaken during this time frame.

Applicants who do not have a professional qualification

If you do not have a previous professional qualification, you may still be eligible to apply for the Masters programme. However, you will need to complete a portfolio detailing a body of clinical work and training that demonstrates equivalence to a first profession.

You are required to upload your portfolio at the time of application. Please provide this in a CV style, and specify where you have worked, your responsibilities and the duration of each post. In addition, please tell us about any further training or CPD that you have completed.

Please provide as much information as you can; the more detailed the portfolio, the easier it is for the tutors to assess an applicant's suitability for the course.

Clinical experience

Examples of suitable professions are:

  • Social worker
  • Nurse
  • Doctor
  • Psychologist
  • Counsellor
  • Teacher/pastoral worker with substantial experience working with families
  • Music/drama therapist

If you are unsure about your clinical experience then please contact us to arrange a conversation with one of our course team.

Months of entry


Course content

This is the UK's first family therapy training course, run annually since 1975. It is fully accredited by the Association of Family Therapists and will allow you to study in a functioning NHS setting.

Over the two years, you will study:

Theoretical lectures and seminars

These will extend your understanding of theoretical concepts in the systemic psychotherapy field, clinical work, organisational consultation and teaching.

Clinical supervision

You will meet in a group for up to five hours per week throughout the course where you will work with families across the life cycle stages either in a CAMHS or adult setting.

You will also work within a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) setting, taking a range of referrals and presenting problems.

Clinical work

This will train you to adopt a range of therapeutic approaches using systemic principles with individuals, couples and families. It will equip you to think about the wider professional systems surrounding the clinical context.

Personal/professional development (PPD)

As a therapist you will be required to think about your own personal life experiences and share these with other students in order to understand the connections between you and the clients you work with. Much of the PPD will take place in groups and this is an important reflective space where you will be encouraged to think about your contribution to group dynamics and the wider organisational system being created in this learning environment.


This is designed to help you develop a research ‘frame of mind’ by introducing you to quantitative and qualitative research paradigms and a number of research methods.

Teaching and consultancy

You will be offered the opportunity to embed your systemic knowledge by teaching and offering consultation to groups of professionals externally.

The course is accredited by the Association of Family Therapy AFT. The Blue Book standardises the courses nationally and the hours that need to be completed.

All students will need to complete clinical work throughout the course in their own workplace or with another voluntary organisation. In addition to this, a large component of the course is theoretical and students will be expected to carry out the necessary academic work in their own time to fulfil the AFT and University of Essex criteria.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

We are happy to offer a range of ways to pay your fees, as well as some funding for specific courses.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Please note that course fees will increase by 2% each year.

Qualification and course duration


part time
24 months

Course contact details

Katie Oliver
+44 (0)20 8938 2213 / 2214