Learning and Living Systemic: Exploring the Personal Effects of Family Therapy Training

Paul Rhodes*, Chai Nge, Andrew Wallis, Caroline Hunt

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Despite growing recognition that systemic family therapists need to be adept at personal reflection and managing the therapeutic relationship, little research has explored the effects of training beyond the development of skills. This article provides a report on a qualitative study focussed on the personal effects of family therapy training, with particular reference to the aspects of training that foster personal reflection and growth. Twenty three trainees from three training institutions were interviewed, utilizing the practices of grounded theory. Trainees reported a deepening relational awareness, which applied to both personal and professional domains and included shifts in perspectives on relationships with loved ones. Five aspects of training were identified as responsible: (1) personally challenging experiences with clients; (2) supervisors who live the paradigm; (3) the demystification of theory; (4) a safe supervisory space; and (5) the development of trusting peer relationships. Interns also described, in turn, how their personal development affected their clinical work, particularly in the development of compassion and empathy. This study serves to highlight training practices that support reflective practice in systemic family therapy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)335-347
    Number of pages13
    JournalContemporary Family Therapy
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


    • Family therapy
    • Personal development
    • Self of the therapist


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