Systemic psychotherapy (M6)

Join the UK’s longest-running systemic family therapy qualifying course

Taught in a highly regarded NHS setting by experienced clinicians, this course was the first of its kind in the UK.

Successful completion provides you with a professional qualification accredited by the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice and enables you to register with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). If you are applying for a Health Education England funded place, please see the fees and funding section below.

Please note: you may see the M6 course also referred to as SYMATP002 in communications from our application system.

About this course

This course is a rigorous and intensive programme. It will extend your understanding of theoretical concepts in systemic psychotherapy and fully develop your clinical skills as a systemic family therapist. You will learn through clinical supervision, clinical work, personal and professional development, research, teaching and consultancy, lectures and seminars.

Clinical supervision

You will provide family therapy to clients/service users while supervised live by a trained systemic supervisor in clinical supervision groups. You will meet in the group for up to five hours per week throughout the course. You will work with families across the life cycle stages, either in a child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) or an adult setting, taking a range of referrals and presenting problems.

Consulting relationships between peers are encouraged as part of the clinical supervision process (and in other contexts). The consultation role that you take within your consulting partnerships will develop your capacity for leadership. This part of the course we arrange for you.

Clinical work

You will also need to set up your own clinical work and systemic supervision in your external agency or placement and keep a log of your hours and learning. This is required by the Association of Family Therapy (AFT) to enable you to practise new skills and theoretical learnings.

We will only be able to accept you on the course if you have set up your own clinical work and you will need a systemic supervisor for this work. The supervision does not need to be live but can be retrospective as long as it is conducted at least once a month.

Personal and professional development

As a therapist you will be required to reflect upon 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 this activity will take place in groups.

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. Attending a group relations conference is a requirement of the course.

As part of your application, you are required to write a personal statement which should include reference to your family of origin and incidents in your personal life that you feel are connected to why you would like to be considered for the master’s training.


The research aspect of this course 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. You will either complete a research portfolio or a research dissertation.

Teaching and consultancy

You will be offered the opportunity to embed your systemic knowledge by teaching and offering consultation to groups of professionals externally. One of your assignments will be setting up a short piece of teaching usually in your work context.

Lectures and seminars

More information will be added shortly regrading the frequency and time commitment for these sessions (five hours per week for supervision groups, for example).

Who is this course for?

This course is for professionals who have completed the foundation and intermediate levels of systemic training and are currently working in the field of mental health, social work/care or education.

Course details

In order to undertake this course, you need to:

  • hold a professional qualification in social work, teaching, psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, nursing or an affiliated discipline, or equivalent
  • hold an undergraduate degree or are able to demonstrate that you are able to meet the demands of a master’s level course
  • have completed an AFT-accredited intermediate level systemic/family therapy training course. Please note that this is a mandatory requirement – we can only accept applications from those who have completed or are in the process of completing an intermediate level training such as our Systemic approaches to working with individuals, families and organisations (D4I) course
  • be 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 submit a short essay of 1,500 words, discussing one of the following subjects:

  • shame
  • power
  • responsibility
  • risk
  • protection
  • 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.

Personal statement

In addition to the essay, applicants are required to write a personal statement including personal information about your family of origin and how this connects to your development so far. Please write about your relationships from your early life as well as present day, and any significant episodes that you feel connect to your learning about yourself. Please let us know about your aspirations for your future career.

This section does not need referencing and should be a maximum of 500 words.

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 and/or who have completed their intermediate training more than four years ago can demonstrate equivalency by:

  • completing 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
  • providing us with details of any relevant CPD courses you have undertaken, if you have completed your intermediate training more than four years ago

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 master’s 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 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 (accredited to a professional body)
  • 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 a member of our course team.


£8,310 per year (2024/25)


£16,620 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.


There are various ways that students will be assessed throughout the two years of training.

Students’ skills will be assessed by their clinical supervisor on the competencies set by the course and AFT. Students need to pass their first year to go on to the second year.

There will be several written assignments during the first year and a dissertation in the second year (students are able to resubmit if necessary, under the guidelines of the University of Essex). Students will also have a viva.


Year one

  • Sessions will take place on Thursdays and Fridays on the dates shown in the table below
  • Timings for Thursdays are 9am to 5.30pm
  • Timings for Fridays are 9am to 4.30pm, except for the final sessions of each term which will finish at 5.30pm
Autumn 2022Induction days22 and 23 September 2022
Autumn 202216 and 7 October 2022
Autumn 202223 and 4 November 2022
Autumn 202231 and 2 December 2022
Winter 202345 and 6 January 2023
Winter 202352 and 3 February 2023
Winter 202362 and 3 March 2023
Spring 2023720 and 21 April 2023
Spring 2023811 and 12 May 2023
Spring 20239 (Endings)15 and 16 June 2023

Upon successful completion of this course, our graduates will hold the professional qualification of systemic psychotherapist that can be used to practice within the NHS, private practice or a combination of both.

With our master’s at the Tavistock being the first qualifying course in the UK our reputation for providing high-quality training is well-known and reflected in the huge number of applications received every year and the swiftness with which our graduates are offered employment very soon after qualifying.

We have an amazing community of systemic psychotherapists, who, depending on their interests, go on to work in a range of contexts with individuals, couples, families, organisations, both nationally and internationally and in voluntary, statutory and private settings.

Apart from clinical practice, our graduates also make substantial contributions to the systemic field as researchers, supervisors, trainers, academic writers and in the virtual space offering podcasts, blogs and videos.

Why study with us?

This course has been running since 1975 and was the first in the UK. It will provide you with a professional qualification that enables you to register with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). It is highly regarded and will fully develop your clinical skills to provide family therapy as well as consultation, and teaching to the wider system.


“I feel very privileged to be practicing as a trainee systemic psychotherapist in a CAMHS team at the Tavistock and to be helping children and families who need it. What I enjoy most is the teaching which is to a very high standard. The wealth of expertise from the broad range of lecturers and clinicians who teach us has enriched my practice.”

Course facilitators

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. The Blue Book, produced by the AFT, is a guide to training standards and course accreditation and standardises the courses nationally and the hours that need to be completed.

Register your interest

Applications are now closed. Register your interest and be the first to hear when this course reopens.

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