Systemic approaches to working with individuals, families and organisations (D4I, intermediate)

Develop an understanding of systemic theory and practice with the most advanced pre-qualifying course in systemic approaches

This course will provide you with a well-developed understanding of systemic theory and practice which will underpin your work with diverse families and organisations.

It is the most advanced pre-qualifying course in systemic approaches and constitutes the best preparation for the clinical training in the UK. This course is validated by the University of Essex and accredited by the Association of Family Therapy (AFT).

This course is also offered at foundation level.

The deadline for applications to this course is provisionally set for Wednesday 31 July 2024. However, we encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible, as spaces are limited and can be competitive.

Please note: you may see the D4I course also referred to as SYPCTP002 in communications from our application system.

About this course

Systemic family therapy involves working therapeutically with individuals together with their families and/or significant others, enabling the use of individuals’ relationships as a resource. It can sometimes include relational work with individuals, psychoeducational approaches and multiple family groups.

This course provides a strong focus on you as a clinical practitioner. You will gain the capacity to recognise multiple contexts, including professional and political discourses, that inform your work. In addition, you will develop your systemic practice skills.

The course consists of the following elements:

  • theoretical seminars
  • application seminars
  • whole-day events
  • personal tutorials
  • clinical work

Theoretical seminars combine theoretical and experiential learning with an emphasis on interactional learning. In smaller application groups, you will be expected to present your own experience using systemic theoretical concepts.

You will undertake presentations on personal and professional issues, illustrating an aspect of systemic theory.

You will attend two full-day events which include presentations and workshops by systemic clinicians.

For successful completion of the intermediate course you will need to have completed the following required clinical work with families:

  • 60 hours of face-to-face clinical work over the year. This is approximately three sessions a week
  • 80% of this face-to-face work must be with families and couples
  • 20% of face-to-face work may be systemic consultation, systemic work with individuals or being part of reflecting team

It is preferable that students have a variety of work which includes families that are different to their own and includes liaison with the external professional system. The therapeutic work needs to be ongoing and not only consist of initial assessments or appointments.

You will need to ensure that you receive monthly systemic supervision for your clinical work. The supervisor may not hold clinical responsibility for the case; clinical responsibility rests with the senior clinician responsible for the management of the case in the workplace/placement. Your work can be supervised live or retrospectively.

Summary of intermediate year

Term one

You will look at applying systems at different levels of complexity including workgroups, organisations and communities. You will examine effects of your family of origin and consider the impact of race, gender, culture, sexual orientation, class and physical ability upon yourself and your family of origin, and connect these ideas and beliefs to your professional practice.

Term two

You will develop an in-depth examination and critical evaluation of the theoretical basis of the systems approaches and their development, together with an exploration of current debates and developments in thinking and practice. You will examine broader applications of systemic theory and analyse how other theoretical approaches overlap and differ.

Term three

You will undertake the ‘Presentation and analysis of a systemic interview’ project in order to demonstrate your systemic practice by presenting an audio or video excerpt of a clinical interview with a family to a panel of tutors and analysing this in detail. You will develop the ability to think about your work contexts and to intervene in complex work situations involving working with other professionals and other agencies.

Who is this course for?

This course is for you if you already hold an AFT-accredited foundation certificate in systemic therapy that has been obtained at the Tavistock and Portman, or another recognised institution.

You can also progress to this course if you have successfully completed our Postgraduate certificate in Child, adolescent and family mental wellbeing multidisciplinary practice (D24), having undertaking the family observation.

On this course, you will need to see families and couples as the key therapist.

Course details

In order to be eligible for this course, you must have completed one of the following:

If you have not completed one of the above, you will need to demonstrate how you meet the learning outcomes of our foundation course.

After submitting an application, please send us an email including a document detailing how you meet these with your full name and the course code in the subject line. Please ensure that you have addressed each learning outcome individually, and provided evidence.

If invited to interview, you will be asked to bring a portfolio demonstrating your systemic learning and experience.

You must also be either working or volunteering in a setting that allows you to complete 60 hours of face-to-face work with families, where you are permitted to use film or audio to record some of your work.


£3,580 per year (2024/25)


£7,160 per year (2024/25)

You will be charged course fees for each year of your course. If your course is longer than one year, the fees that you will be charged after the first year will be subject to an annual inflationary increase. This will either be an increase of 3% or the Consumer Price Inflation as on 1 September of that year – whichever is the greater. At its discretion, the Trust may determine a figure between these two rates. Please refer to our Student Fees & Refund Policy for further information.

Financial support may be available to help you fund your studies at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.


This course is assessed through three assignments:

  • a 3,000 word organisational essay
  • a 3,000 word theory essay
  • a 1,000 word Viva essay to be uploaded in advance of your presentations two or more weeks later
  • a viva, which will be a five-minute verbal introduction to your five minute audio/video clip of you working with a family systemically, ten minutes to talk about the interventions within your clip, followed by up to 15 minutes of questions from two examiners


Tuesday evenings from 5.30pm to 8.30pm.

The intermediate level of this course is recognised by many organisations as making graduates eligible to use the title ‘Systemic Practitioner’.

Graduates often report that their confidence at work improves and progression is enhanced in the health, social care and voluntary sectors as well as in independent practice.

Students are advised to join the Association of Family Therapy (AFT) to continue access to systemic thinking and CPD opportunities. Those that graduate from the intermediate course are eligible to apply to the qualifying master’s course.

Why study with us?

We have been delivering systemic training for over 30 years. We offer a high level of training delivered by experienced clinicians and supervisors who work in child, adolescent and adult mental health services, and social care settings.

Students who successfully complete the intermediate course will be eligible to apply to our qualifying master’s, Systemic Psychotherapy (M6).

Course facilitators

  • Rukiya Jemmott

    Rukiya Jemmott

    Senior Systemic Psychotherapist and AFT registered supervisor and Course Lead

Validations and accreditations

University of Essex logo

This course is validated by the University of Essex.

AFT logo

This course is accredited by the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice.

Apply now

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