Become a Certified Systemic Mental Health Counselor
A 3-year Training Program in Systemic Counselling
The Systemic Counselling Training Course in hours
THE SYSTEMIC APPROACH
Systemic Theory is a comprehensive and scientifically validated approach, not only to psychotherapy for which it is mostly known but also to fields such as counselling. The systemic perspective offers a versatile, broad and unifying framework for organizing the complexity that professionals from different fields and backgrounds are faced with and facilitates communication among them.
WHO CAN ENROLL ON THE COURSE
The Systemic and Family Counselling Training Course is designed for professionals whose role is to help others develop their potential, make decisions, deal with crises, resolve conflicts, and support other people in turn. Applications are evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the training faculty, taking into account a candidate’s entire profile, set of skills and qualifications. The selection process includes a face-to-face interview with all candidates.
The program is suitable for three groups of professionals:
I. Mental health practitioners with academic degrees in psychology, psychiatry, social work or sociology, who wish to discover the systemic approach and apply it to counselling practice with individuals, families, and groups.
II. Graduates from other academic fields such as teachers, doctors, nurses, youth probation officers, law practitioners involved in family matters, human resources executives, and others, who wish to become certified systemic counselors and develop the counselling skills that will make them more effective in their workplace.
Trainees from the above categories (I & II) who complete the three years of training in Systemic and Family Counselling, are eligible for registration with professional counselling associations, upon which they can legally employ the title “Counselor”.
III. Those who wish to enrich their current professional role with the systemic approach and skills. This group may complete the first two years of the training leaving out the third. At the end of the two years, trainees can receive a certificate of attendance, validating the modules and hours completed but are not eligible for registration with professional associations of Systemic Counselling and cannot use the title Systemic Counselor.
On average, 20 applicants are admitted to the training course each year. Applications are screened on a case by case basis by the training faculty, and after a face to face interview with the candidate. Those admitted to the program must submit their CVs, as well as copies of their diplomas and certificates to the Laboratory. These will be kept in their individual files along with their coursework and assessments.
The structure and content of each of the three academic years are briefly summarized below. At the start of each year, instructors hand trainees a detailed study guide with the content, training methods, assessment requirements of the course and all additional information. Some variation, as in the methods of practical training, is to be expected depending on current possibilities and location of the training (e.g. in Athens or elsewhere). Course instructors must adhere to the program’s outline and the general directions of the Training Faculty, but they preserve the freedom to choose their core bibliography, decide the content of assignments, provide additional guidance or instructions to trainees, and compile recommended reading lists which they update regularly.
Theoretical training is carried out in working groups where trainees and their trainers discuss and explore issues related to systemic counselling with individuals, families and groups. As the course progresses, they gradually focus on more specialized topics, ranging from issues with psychological well-being (2nd year) to more complex and severe mental health difficulties (3rd year). Trainees attend lectures and participate in experiential activities such as role playing, small group discussions, expressive and creative projects, developing and presenting case reports, and others. They prepare assignments and presentations on topics from systemic and family theory, and they attend conferences, speeches and seminars organized by the Laboratory or in partnership with it, on specialized areas of counselling theory and practice.
The topics covered during the two years are:
Ι. General Counselling Theory and Practice
- Introduction to the work of a counselor. The scope and boundaries of the counselling role. Contexts and types of interventions.
- The Three Phase Counselling Model. Analyzing the skills required for each phase.
- Counselling for individuals, families and groups.
- Different schools of counselling and useful concepts and techniques from each.
- Troubleshooting: Terminating or breaking a contract, availability outside sessions, transference and counter-transference, compatibility, failure and dropout.
- Well-being and personal development of the counselor: Avoiding burnout, setting boundaries, maintaining an evidence-based practice.
- Ethical issues
ΙΙ. Systemic Counselling Theory and Practice
- Basic concepts and principles of systemic theory
- Overview of family therapy schools
- Skills and techniques in systemic / family counselling
- The three stages of therapy according to the Integrative Systemic Model. Analyzing the first (counselling) stage. Formulating systemic hypotheses.
- Special Topics. In this module trainees examine specific applications of the systemic approach to a wide range of difficulties in different domains of life. Examples include: (i) life cycle and family relationships, (ii) prevention and mental health, (iii) psychosomatic health, (iv) school and education, (v) crisis management, (vi) trauma and loss, (vii) work relationships, (viii) diversity and stigma.
- In the third year, trainees are familiarized with the field of psychopathology, so that they can identify symptoms and respond with suitable partnerships, and referrals to appropriate mental health units and professionals.
Supervision is provided to trainees in order to support and encourage the application of counselling skills and interventions in their workplace and professional role. These sessions also involve an exploration of trainees’ observations, feelings and thoughts regarding their practical training and counselling work (see below).
- Observing and analyzing recorded or live counselling sessions with individuals, families and/or groups.
- Experiential activities and simulations in small groups, with the support and guidance of an instructor.
- Preparing case reports and presenting recorded samples of their counselling work.
Trainees are expected to enter a program of personal psychotherapy that follows the systemic approach and includes joining a therapy group. Trainees can select a systemic (group) therapy program of their choice or obtain a list of therapists from our Office Team. Trainees must ensure that their therapist provides group therapy and is registered with a systemic professional association that is a member of the European Family Therapy Association (EFTA). Trainees are expected to complete a minimum of 200 hours of personal therapy. The yearly length of personal therapy is independent of the course duration; It may therefore begin and end at different dates than the course. To receive the final certificate in Systemic Counselling candidates must obtain written confirmation of the total number of hours of therapy completed, and a confidential letter of recommendation by their therapist, who mails it directly to the Laboratory. Trainees who have followed a therapy program in a different approach (non-systemic), are required to complete a minimum of 133 hours of therapy (2/3s of the 200 hours) in the systemic approach, from a certified systemic therapist.
MEANS AND RESOURCES
The Laboratory has all the necessary means and resources to carry out and support its training programs. These include suitable seminar areas, one-way mirror rooms and audiovisual media for recording and observing sessions. The Laboratory also provides trainees and staff with free online access to established, peer-reviewed international journals of systemic and family therapy. Through the Laboratory’s website, trainees and faculty have free access to its Working Papers series, which explores issues of systemic epistemology and therapy.
SUPPLEMENTARY ACTIVITIES DURING TRAINING
RESEARCH AND PUBLISHING
Trainees can participate in the Laboratory’s research projects, depending on their experience and academic background. They may also request supervision in preparing their own research projects or conference presentations from Laboratory associates with related fields of interest. It is also possible to publish papers in the Laboratory’s Working Papers series (see above) upon submission and evaluation by the coordinating committee. Trainees are encouraged to submit papers as a way to obtain feedback for their work and a pre-publication that facilitates submission to scientific journals.
OCCASIONAL EVENTS AND WORKSHOPS
Throughout the year, the Laboratory organizes workshops and events such as therapy marathons and day conferences, to which trainees are encouraged to participate.