About Family Therapy

Training to become a Family Therapist

“Family Therapist” is currently not a protected title in the UK. As a result, some therapists may provide family sessions and call themselves family therapist, even though they do not have full training and experience in theories related to family therapy and the associated professional registration.

To qualify as a Family and Systemic Psychotherapist, it is necessary for an individual to undertake a four-year training in Foundation, Intermediate and Qualifying Masters level. “The four-year training is designed to qualify students to work with families, couples, individuals, other systems and relationship networks and includes training relevant to work with children and adolescents.”[iii] It is a requirement that students entering this training already have a qualification in a relevant profession e.g. social work, nursing, clinical psychology or psychiatry.

Upon completion of the intermediate level of this training, professionals can call themselves “systemic practitioners” and they can apply systemic concepts into their existing professional practice. It is only after qualification in the Masters level that professionals can call themselves a “Family and Systemic Psychotherapist”, become an accredited member of the AFT (Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice in the UK) and register with the UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy). There are a wide range of competencies expected from a qualified Family and Systemic Psychotherapist. For a summary of Competency Benchmarks, please refer to this topic on the Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQ).

To become a certified Systemic Supervisor, Systemic and Family Psychotherapists have to complete a further one-year training at Masters Level. The course combines teaching in advanced systemic family therapy and supervision theories, alongside the practice of retrospective individual and live group supervisions. The course covers aspects related to the training and evaluation of Systemic Family Psychotherapists, as well as consultation to teams and organisations.

Family and Systemic Psychotherapists and Supervisors adhere to standards and ethical guidelines devised by the UKCP and AFT, including a requirement to comply with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in order to renew their annual memberships.

For more information on training, the profession and registration please refer to the Association of Family Therapy & Systemic Practice website.


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