About Family Therapy

The Competency Benchmark for Family and Systemic Psychotherapists

The National Occupational Standards for Psychological Therapies (NOS) describes what is expected of someone working in their occupation. The minimum competencies of a Systemic and Family Psychotherapist are summarised as following[iii]:

    • "To undertake an assessment for Family and Systemic Psychotherapy as a therapeutic activity. This requires taking sensitive account of the client’s needs as information is gathered enabling the client’s wider perspective.

    • To promote constructive patterns in relationships within and across systems. Through the promotion of open communication and the engagement of relevant people in the therapeutic alliance clients are assisted to focus on their actions, resources and the impact on their own lives and the wider system.

    • To be able to use the resources of a team in Family and Systemic Psychotherapy. This requires collaboratively reflecting the team’s contributions and adjusting the direction of the therapeutic work.

    • To be able to explain the rationale for systemic approaches explaining to the individual, the family and the significant system how one change in the system leads to another.

    • To be able to intervene in patterns within and across systems.

    • To be able to explore differences across and within cultures in family and systemic therapy. The therapist will recognise when extra consultation is required to support client well-being and that it involves respectfully challenging beliefs, behaviours and practice within the logic of the cultural system.

    • To promote change through tasks between Family and Systemic Psychotherapy sessions. This will include developing effective tasks, eliciting feedback helpful to the clients and adjusting the pace and direction of therapy in response to the tasks.

    • To be able to develop a formulation in Family and Systemic Psychotherapy, which includes themselves and, the professional systems of which they are member. This involves sharing multiple narratives, contexts and perspectives with the family recognising that it evolves during the progress of therapy.

    • Being able to work across different languages in Family and Systemic Psychotherapy. Interpreters have an important role in the system and the therapist demonstrates to the client their desire to achieve a shared conceptual agreement.

    • To be able to monitor and review progress in Family and Systemic Psychotherapy. This requires that the therapist and client together highlight progress or when direction may need to change. The therapist works self and relational reflexively.

    • To be able to engage significant members of the client’s system.

    • To be able to promote the engagement of children and adolescent in Family and Systemic Psychotherapy.

    • To be able to manage the ending of Family and Systemic Psychotherapy."


[iii] The Blue Book. Training Standards and Course Accreditation (2015) 4th edition, AFT