Certificate in Systemic Social Work Practice with Children and Families - Intermediate Level (Year 2)

15-day intermediate systemic practice course

Course requirements

In order to successfully complete the course, participants will need to be able to demonstrate they have met 
requirements listed below:

  • Minimum 80% attendance rate

Course assignments

Assignment one:  Systemic observation and analysis (formative essay)Students are encouraged to regularly video record some of their practice with families as part of the practice log.

Students are required to write about an episode of interaction with a family.

You are expected to audio or video record the interaction. Through the process of re-listening and reviewing the recording you will need to critically reflect on the interaction using the systemic ideas presented on the course within the first five days.

This assignment must include the following:

  • A transcription of relevant extracts with a minimum of 10 conversational turns, which is included in the word count.
  • There is a word limit of 2,700 words with a 10% leeway.
  • Consideration of family of origin issues for self by including a genogram of your own family.
  • Genogram of the family observed.
  • Students must attend to the marking criteria listed on page 20.

Aim/purpose of assignment

This is a formative assignment which will not be graded but will give students feedback to guide further assignments. The intention of this assignment is to help students begin applying more advanced systemic ideas to practice, by taking the meta-position of observing self and deconstructing how we view and make sense of reality(ies), based on the key Social GRACES, views and context.

Please note that we expect students to use a different family for each assignment.

Assignment two: Viva presentation of systemic workStudents are encouraged to regularly video record some of their practice with families as part of the practice log.

Students will be expected to present a brief excerpt of 5 minutes of video footage of a systemic intervention/practice with families in a viva presentation with a panel.

The panel will randomly stop the video and invite you to explain and discuss your systemic practice.

Students will need to submit the following before their viva presentation:

An overview of the case which includes:

  • referral information (why are we working with the family?)
  • family & professional network genogram
  • Description of similarities and differences between you and the family based on Social GGGRRAACCCEEESSS
  • Explain your working hypothesis and your intervention including your rationale based on theory of change.

This written submission has a maximum 1500-word count (not including references).

Aim/purpose of assignment

This is a summative assignment which will be graded, and will contribute to your overall final grade.

The intention of this assignment is for students to learn how to present a coherent understanding of their systemic practice by providing a written account of their work and then being able to speak to it.

Please note that we expect students to use a different family for each assignment.

Assignment three: Graded/marked essayWrite a reflective account of a systemic social work intervention with a family. 3000 words (10% leeway)

You are invited to provide an account of a piece of work in which systemic theory has informed your intervention with a family whom you have worked with while on this course. The essay must link to the marking criteria as listed on page 20.

The essay should include the following the key elements:

  • An introduction to yourself and the family, giving context to your organisation, and any relevant wider social contexts.
  • Set out yours and the family’s visible or invisible, Social GGGRRAACCCEEESSS in order to make connections to similarities and differences and issues of power.
  • Your essay should show the process of your reflection and your developing self-reflexivity; by highlighting why you did what you did. This can be shown by you explaining the circular process of how you updated and changed your hypotheses throughout your work with the family.
  • Set out a clear systemic formulation based on your understanding of the family and create a clear associated intervention plan.
  • Explain how you addressed the key issues of risk from a systemic perspective, clearly naming the key systemic models or theories used to help you with this.
  • Offer a clear evaluation and critique of the work undertaken.
  • Your essay must include a genogram/ecomap of the family and the professional network which reflects and connects to your thinking about the family and your work.
  • Please note that we expect students to use a different family for each assignment.

Assignment four: Portfolio of learning and developmentThe portfolio will provide key evidence for your learning journey and process over the duration of the course. These pieces of work should show evidence of how you have integrated systemic ideas and concepts into your social work practice.

You need to include the following key components:

  1. Reflective learning diary
  2. Practice log of systemic practice
  3. Two practice case studies
  4. Completed questionnaires for start, mid-way and end of course
  5. Notes/materials used in reading group presentations
  6. Systemic supervision log

1. Reflective learning diary

In addition to your assignments you are required to keep a typed reflective learning diary throughout your training.

A reflective learning diary is an opportunity to capture your ideas and reflections on what you have learnt from your lectures, presentations, reading groups, practice sessions and workshops. As well as links to how you apply systemic ideas in your work place and the wider connections you make to the organisation and other networks/systems.

You may wish to include how these ideas fit or challenge your existing training, beliefs and values. We are particularly interested in seeing how your thinking develops or changes as your progress through the course. Below is a list of reflective questions which you could use as the basis for reflection on each teaching day.

  • What were the themes of the day?
  • What have I learned about systemic theory and practice?
  • What have I learnt about myself personally?
  • What have I learnt about myself as a professional?
  • What could I do differently when working with families?
  • Which Social GGGRRAACCCEEESSS did I most connect with today?

2. Practice Log of systemic practice

This is a record of your practice where you attempt to integrate and use systemic thinking and techniques within your practice, there are at least two family members.

You need to complete 60 hours of systemic practice.

30 hours (50%) should be with couples and families. This means that there are at least two family members present in the session.

10 hours (20%) could be used for systemic practice in meetings and case consultations. You must be chairing the meeting or leading a particular systemic intervention i.e. facilitating a reflective team.

20 hours (30%) could be demonstrated whilst working with individuals using a systemic approach.

You are entitled to add 30 minutes per session/visit/meeting for planning, preparation, de-brief and reflection.

If you undertake joint work with another practitioner in your work context or in a live supervision group or a clinical placement the following applies:

  • You can count all of the time when you work in a session as a co-therapist or co-practitioner and are both attending to process.
  • If you are part of a reflecting team behind a screen and are part of the reflecting team interventions with a family you may count half of the time.
  • If you are just an observer, you may not count any of the time.

Please refer to the detailed guidance and practice log sheet to record your practice hours, which is at the very end of the handbook. 

You will be expected to regularly present pieces of systemic work from your practice log during the course.

3. Two practice case studies

You need to provide two case studies on two families where you feel you have developed your learning using systemic approaches/models in your practice.

This is your chance to do a summary reflection on your learning from working with these families and how you used particular systemic models/approaches in your practice. Please include a genogram/ecomap of the family and professional network. Each case study should not exceed more than 2 sides of A4 (including genogram).

Please include the following:

  • What are the presenting issues?
  • What was the hypothesis that influenced your intervention?
  • What systemic ideas did you use in the intervention?
  • What was the outcome of your intervention?
  • What did you learn through working with this family?
  • On reflection, are there things you would want to do differently?

4. Completed questionnaires for start, mid-way and end of course

These questionnaires are designed to help you reflect on your learning and progress during the course. We will encourage all participants to complete these on days 1, 8 and 15. Please add your completed questionnaires to your portfolio.

5. Notes/materials used in reading group presentations

As part of the teaching days, everyone will present a summary of three papers across the course within their reading groups.

Please include any notes from your summary presentations along with any feedback and reflections on completing this.

6. Systemic Clinical Supervision Log

It is an AFT requirement that all Year 2 students have regular systemic supervision. Below is the guidance provided by AFT on this requirement of clinical supervision:

“It is expected that students should access a minimum of 10 hours of systemic supervision. Supervision can be accessed individually or in a small group. Supervision is expected to cover the individual student’s systemic practice during the course.

Students must receive supervision for the required 60 hours of clinical practice. Ideally a qualified Family and Systemic  Psychotherapist or Supervisor should undertake this within their agency. Where there is a resource issue courses must work with the student to set up the best supervision arrangements possible.

Supervision could be supplemented by supervision from suitably qualified course tutors or independent Family and Systemic Psychotherapists or Supervisors.

The Supervisor should be named and in agreement to supervise the student according to the AFT Code of Ethics and Practice and provide confirmation of practice hours and use of clinical supervision.”

You will need to provide a record of this supervision which will need to be signed by the qualified Systemic Family Therapist or Supervisor that you use and submitted at the end of the course as part of your portfolio.

We have provided a blank log which you can use in the appendix of the handbook on page 61. A letter will also be provided to all students that they can present to their Clinical Supervisor so that they too are aware of the supervisory requirements.