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The University of Southampton

PSYC6120 Systemic Theory and Practice 1

Module Overview

Systemic therapies approach people and their problems, not as isolated individual units, but as people in relationships who are influenced by the interactions and dynamics within the group be it a family or a larger organisation such as an employer. This module in combination with module 2, has been designed to offer teaching that is equivalent to the first year of the Systemic Psychotherapy Foundation training (AFT, 2007). Systemic theory and practice is the programmes second therapeutic model in line with guidance from the British Psychological Society that by the end of the programme Trainees will have the “ability to implement therapeutic interventions based on knowledge and practice in at least two evidence-based models of formal psychological interventions…” (BPS, 2015, p23 – 2.2.4 Psychological Intervention Core Competency, point 3).

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This module provides an introduction to systemic therapy. You will be introduced to different systemic models and to the basic tenets of systemic practice and social constructionism. A key aim of this module is to provide structured opportunities to apply systemic theories to clinical practice.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Be able to demonstrate an understanding of, and be able to describe and critically evaluate different systemic models and approaches
  • be able to demonstrate how to apply systemic theories to psychological problems, resilience and change
  • be able to demonstrate an ability to initiate, maintain and develop a systemic approach
  • to be able to demonstrate the ability to critically reflect on your knowledge, experience and clinical application of systemic models
  • to be able to demonstrate an awareness of the impact of the wider social context (i.e. social GRRAACCES) within systemic therapy


This module will be split over the first and second year of your training. In the first year the syllabus contains most of the core teaching sessions. Year one 1. Introduction to the systemic approach & social constructionism 2. Setting the context & social constructionism 3. Structural model 4. Strategic model 5. Milan / Post Milan & social constructionism 6. Solution Focused Therapy 7. Narrative therapy

Special Features

Within this module it is a requirement that you attend the additional Clinical Round Table Discussions which will be scheduled to run in parallel with placements 2, 3 and 4 across the two years. These will be for 1.5hrs monthly for the duration of each placement (i.e., Year 1: June, July, and September and Year 2: October, January, February, March, June, July and September). You will be required to attend a minimum of 8 out of the 10 sessions and will only be able to miss one session per year.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module will include lectures, experiential exercises delivered in a workshop format. You will keep a systemic training log of patients with whom you have worked in order to put the teaching into practice. There will also be Clinical Round Table discussions with experts/supervisors/clinicians which will enable you to think and critically reflect on your application of systemic theory/approaches and your positioning within professional systems.

Independent Study15
Total study time50

Resources & Reading list

Association for Family Therapy (2009). Summary of Family Interventions recommended and reviewed in NICE guidelines. Updated Jan 2011. 

An Introduction to Family Therapy: Systemic Theory and Practice..

Stratton, P (2005). Report On The Evidence Base Of Systemic Family Therapy. 

The Evidence Base of Systemic Family and Couples Therapies.

The Cultural Meaning of Triangles. In M. McGoldrick (Ed), Re-visioning family therapy: Race,culture, and gender in clinical practice (pp. 37-49)..

Burnham, J. B.,. Family Therapy: First Steps Towards a Systemic Approach.. 

Burr, V. (2003). Social Constructionism. 

Carr, A. (2006). Family Therapy 2nd Edition: Concepts, Process and Practice. 



Systemic Reflective Log


MethodPercentage contribution
Interview with a Family 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

There will be no specific cost implications beyond the normal costs of your own stationary/resources. The key texts should be available from the University library and we also have electronic copies of the majority of the reading material for teaching session.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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