Working with families with physical illness: a systemic approach (CPD57)

Receive expert clinical reflection and guidance on applying a systemic framework to the psychosocial aspects of working with illness and disability

The care and support of children and adults affected by serious physical illness, disability and treatment regimes falls largely to their families.

Familial relationships can be affected and this can affect the development, treatment and prognosis for serious illness. This interactive course is designed for you in order to assist in engaging with families and working with the many different professional agencies that may be involved.

The National Service Framework (NSF) commissioning children’s and young people’s palliative care services recommends offering psychological support and therapy to families. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for long term chronic illness also recommend emotional and psychological support for children, parents, and carers.

Aims and learning objectives

The aim of the course is to enable you, as a professional, to reflect on the psychosocial aspects of your work and feel more confident in using a systemic framework.

Thinking about families as a resource and a context for change, and through a variety of seminars, presentations, self-exploration, and experiential exercises, you will gain a theoretical understanding of the systemic model and skills you will need to apply when working in physical illness.

Who is this course for?

This course provides an introduction to systemic ideas for any professional working with people affected by physical illness.

It is for medical and non-medical professionals, including nurses, doctors, psychologists, social workers, counsellors, occupational therapists, spiritual carers, and all those who would like to know more about systemic thinking and practice or are looking for a refresher.

Course details

The next course will run on the following dates:

SessionsDateStart timeEnd time
Session 1/5Monday 31 March 20259.30am3.30pm
Session 2/5Thursday 3 April 20259.30am3.30pm
Session 3/5Friday 4 April 20259.30am3.30pm
Session 4/5Monday 7 April 20259.30am3.30pm
Session 5/5Friday 11 April 20259.30am3.30pm

This course will be delivered remotely using Zoom, and the session will not be recorded.

You will need a device with a microphone and camera together with a suitably fast internet connection. Although mobile devices and tablets can be used, we recommend the use of a laptop or desktop PC for the best experience. Some devices provided by employers may have restrictions in place. Please use this Zoom test link to check your set up before booking.

You will be sent the necessary login link about a week before the course start date. Should you have any concerns about the accessibility of remote delivery please contact us to discuss how we can best help you.

The course will draw on your own experiences and those of the facilitators in both hospital and community-based adult and child health. It will include a variety of teaching methods including live seminars, group discussion and clinical reflection.

Themes to be explored include:

  • an introduction to the systemic approach
  • the fit between the family, the professional and the health care system
  • cultural perspectives and diversity
  • the meaning of illness through the life cycle
  • addressing the implications of illness for adults as couples and parents
  • systemic work with pain and other symptoms
  • loss and hope in work with illness
  • personal-professional boundaries: the personal implications for professionals and agencies.

Library membership

Included in your course fee, you will receive online membership to the Tavistock’s internationally-renowned library for the duration of your course.

Our friendly and knowledgeable library team will help to support you through your specialist CPD course, whatever your level of professional or academic experience. You will have access to an extensive range of eBooks, online journals, all the relevant key databases and our specialist audio-visual collection, plus reference access to all our print books.

Our information skills trainer has made lots of material available on Moodle to help you navigate our comprehensive electronic collections. PCs and photocopiers are available for your use (charges apply for printing and copying), as well as various online resources including audio/video playlists.


“Brilliant training; thoroughly enjoyed it. Presenters very skilled and knowledgeable and offer lots of help and development to integrate skills.rnrnrn”
“Feel I have learned so much from this course and really enjoyed the learning framework provided.”
“Excellent course that I have been telling colleagues about and extoling its virtues”
“[It has] given me confidence to use tools and skills in my work straight away something which other trainings have not enabled.”
“The key takeaway points could be implemented quickly in client work that same week!rnrn”

Course facilitators

Book your place today

You can book a place at any time. You’ll receive confirmation by email, and we will be in touch approximately one week before the course starts with detailed joining instructions.

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