Certificate in Systemic Social Work Practice with Children and Families

AFT accredited at Foundation Level

Course outline

Day 1

Welcome, introductions and setting the context:

  • Introduction to systemic ideas and fit with children's social care context.
  • Placing systemic theory and practice within historical context: Bateson through to current thinking.
Day 2

Constructing relationships, making connections between personal and professional:

  • Developing engagement skills and practices that fit with a statutory context.
  • Making connections between personal ideas and beliefs and how these influence the way in which relationships are constructed: the development of self-reflexivity.
Day 3

Making assessments using systemic concepts: the family life cycle, family scripts, and systemic formulations:

  • Understanding the usefulness of the Family Life Cycle Model in making assessments with children, young people and their families.
  • Applying the concept of family scripts to develop understanding of family functioning.
  • Developing an awareness of how both our own beliefs and ideas about families, and the wider social context might impact upon the assessments and formulations that we make.
Day 4

Exploring attachment theory within the social care context in a systemic frame linking with mentalisation theory and practice.

  • Understanding the usefulness of attachment theory within a systemic social work context using interactional awareness.
  • Exploring how attachment theory links to family scripts, Family Life Cycle Model, managing transitions and the secure base both in social work practice and the organisational context.
  • Developing an understanding of the limitations and critique of these theories within different cultural contexts.
Day 5

Using genograms as part of assessment and intervention in social work practice with children and families:

  • Developing self-reflexivity through considering our own family and cultural genogram.
  • Understanding how the use of genograms might add to an assessment through identification of relational patterns across generations and for developing hypotheses.
  • Using the genogram as a systemic intervention towards relationship building and assessment.
Day 6

Incorporating First Order interventions into social work practice with children, young people and their families:

  • Understanding and applying systemic approaches focused upon behaviour change: structural family therapy and strategic family therapy.
  • Making connections between the above and evidence-based work with parents.
  • Locating First Order approaches within a broader systemic theoretical framework.
Day 7

Applying the Milan and post-Milan systemic models into social work practice with children, young people and their families:

  • Understanding the use and application of the three guidelines of hypothesising, circularity and neutrality within the Milan approach.
  • Making connections to professional intentionality in relation to decision making and interventions within the social care context.
  • Consider the use of a second order perspective to promote change at the level of family beliefs, values and meaning.
  • Develop and practice using hypothesising as a form of intervention.
Day 8

Practice day and course review

  • A day to take stock and review the course. Focus on developing practice skills in conducting a systemic interview with a family.
  • Understanding and applying Post-Milan systemic ideas in social work practice: the use of the observing and reflective teams.
  • Develop and practise using linear, strategic, reflexive and circular questions as a form of intervention.
Day 9

Developing relationships with families and professionals through taking relational risks and the concept of safe uncertainty in the assessment of risk:

  • Development of an understanding of our own position in relation to risk and how this might influence our position and practice.
  • The usefulness of systemic theory and practice in the assessment of child protection risk.
  • To appreciate the idea of relational risk-taking and its connection to reflexivity in relationships and consider further the relationship as a site for change.
  • To support reflexive abilities as an aid to better decision making.
  • Consideration of the ethical dilemmas posed in assessment of risk within a statutory context.
Day 10

Social Constructionism and Co-ordinated Management of Meaning (CMM):

  • Gain an understanding of Social Constructionism and the Co-ordinated Management of Meaning (CMM).
  • Develop an understanding of the different tools and techniques within CMM.
  • Consider the use of language and meaning systems in the construction and development of identity and relationships within the wider social context.
  • Discussion about the research undertaken in the development of identities through language.
Day 11

Direct work with children using a Narrative approach/theory:

  • Gain an understanding of the Narrative approach and be able to locate this within the development of systemic ideas.
  • Develop an understanding of how to use Narrative approaches when working with families and children.
  • Develop skills and techniques from Narrative approaches when assessing and managing risk.
Day 12

The Solution Focused approach in systemic social work and social care:

  • Gain an understanding of the Solution-Focused approach and be able to locate this within the development of systemic ideas.
  • Develop an understanding of how to use Solution-Focused approaches when working with children and families.
  • Develop skills and techniques from Solution-Focused approaches in working with 'stuck' relationships.
Day 13

Using the Social GRRRAAACCEEESSS: working with power and violence

  • Develop anti-oppressive practices through a systemic perspective and understanding of the wider context and multiple aspects of social division.
  • Developing self and relational reflexivity in relation to power and difference.
  • To consider the ethical issues in working with relationships in which there is violence and think about a systemic framework to guide our work.
Day 14

Working systemically with adult mental health issues:

  • Gain an understanding of the Open Dialogue model as a systemic approach to working with adult mental health.
  • To consider how a systemic approach to practice might manage risk whilst supporting families to make change.
  • To consider how working systemically might be effective when adults have a mental health diagnosis, working from a research-led evidence base.
Day 15

Systemic interventions in writing and endings:

  • Gain an understanding of how to use writing as a systemic intervention, communicating systemic ideas in assessments and reports.
  • Develop an understanding of how to use therapeutic writing when working with families and children.
  • Develop a systemic approach to ending relationships.