This programme will enable practitioners to develop their knowledge, skills and competency in SFP for adolescents with self-harm/depression and their families and for young people (over 10 years) with conduct problems, or for adolescents with eating disorders and their families.

Frequently asked questions

What is systemic family therapy?

According to the Association for Family Therapy (AFT), family therapy involves working with family members, couples and others who care about each other to express and explore difficult thoughts and emotions safely, to understand each other’s experiences and views, appreciate each other’s needs, build on strengths and make useful changes in their relationships and their lives. To find out more, download the AFT’s booklet ‘What is Family Therapy?’ or watch the University of Exeter’s programme lead and family therapist Hannah Sherbersky in BBC IPlayer documentary ‘I Blame My Parents’.


Candidates should have:

  • At least two years’ experience of working with children and young people’s mental health and experience working with families
  • A Level 6 qualification (usually an undergraduate degree).
    Information about qualification levels can be found here.
  • A core profession recognised by AFT – for example: psychology, social work, psychiatry and other medical specialities, teaching, nursing and health visiting, creative arts therapy, counselling (BACP registered), occupational therapy and speech and language therapy.
  • There is no KSA option available on the SFP strand.

How does the training work?

The course runs for one year, between January and December. This is a training course funded by Health Education England, so you would be studying at the University of Exeter 2 days a week and working in your service 2-3 days per week. You are employed directly by your service, so would apply for a role with them and then be put forward for the course.

What topics will I be studying?

Depending on whether you follow the Conduct Disorders or Eating Disorders strand, you will study the following academic modules as part of the course. Click on the links to find out more information:

  • PYCM027 – Core Skills for Working with Young People with Mental Health Problems and Their Families
  • PYCM030 – Systemic Family Practice in CAMHS
  • PYCM031 (ED Strand Only) – Systemic Family Practice for Adolescent Eating Disorders
  • PYCM032 (CD Strand Only) – Systemic Family Practice for Adolescent Conduct Disorders
  • PYCM033 (CD Strand Only) – Systemic Family Practice for Adolescent Self-harm/Depression

What clinical work would I complete?

You would be required to complete 60 ‘clinical hours’, of which:

  • 40 must be as the ‘lead clinician’
  • 20 can be as part of a reflective or co-therapy team

You will need access to cases appropriate for family therapy via your service. One full family therapy session can be noted as 1.5 hours if it includes a pre and post session discussion. It is worth noting therefore, that the requirement based on this calculation means you would need to do a minimum of about 28 sessions as lead clinician over the course.

How is the course assessed?

The course is assessed via both clinical and academic work, including the following:

  • essays
  • videotaped assessment and therapy sessions
  • case reports
  • case presentations
  • supervision reports
  • reflective logs

Is this course accredited?

Yes, this course is accredited by AFT.

How do I apply?

Our next intake of practitioners will be for January 2024. Most of our trainees work within NHS CAMHS services so to see current job vacancies, check the ‘Latest Jobs’ section of our website, or search on NHS jobs.

Where can I find out more?

For further information: