Systemic Therapy Training Program

Systemic Therapy Training Program2019-11-04T21:15:05+00:00

Become a Certified Systemic and Family Therapist

A four-year training program on the Integrative Model of Systemic Therapy


The Systemic and Family Therapy Training Course in hours

Total Hours
Academic Years
Practical Experience
Personal Therapy

Study Guide



Systemic Psychotherapy is a scientifically validated approach to therapy that can be applied to a wide range of settings and issues. It has a long-standing tradition in Greece and the West. The systemic perspective offers a versatile, broad and unifying framework for organizing the complexity that mental health professionals are faced with, and facilitates communication between them.

The training course in Systemic and Family Therapy offers trainees the educational and practical experiences that will allow them to assimilate theoretical knowledge and obtain the necessary practical training that will enable them to work effectively as therapists.


The Systemic and Family Therapy Training Course is suitable for psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers who are interested in learning the systemic way of thinking and how to apply it to individual, family and group therapy. Applicants from other backgrounds who hold a degree in the fields of Humanities and Social Sciences, can be admitted to the program under certain conditions (for instance, already working in the field of mental health or holding a master’s degree in a mental health specialty). Applications are screened on a case by case basis by our Training Faculty, who consider a candidate’s entire profile, set of skills and qualifications, and meet them in person for an interview.

The Training Faculty, composed of all instructors on the course, must inform candidates individually on their eligibility for obtaining registered status with professional bodies and associations based on current rules and regulations. The assessment criteria and academic standards of the training program (see below) must also be clearly explained to all applicants and prospective trainees.

On average, 20 applicants are admitted to the training course each year. 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 file along with their coursework and assessments.


Length, Content, Completion


The program lasts four (4) years. Trainees may delay completion of certain components of the course (such as practical training) due to professional, personal or family engagements.


The course is composed of the following components (the number of hours indicates the minimum amount of time required):

  • Personal (group) psychotherapy (300 hours)
  • Theoretical training (500 hours)
  • Practical training (482 hours)
  • Supervision (200 hours)

Each of the above components is outlined below. A detailed study guide is handed to trainees at the start of each academic year.  The 9-month duration for each academic year applies only to the theoretical component of the course. The practical training and personal therapy components may cover a different length of time per year. Trainees with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology can enrol additionally on the training course in Systemic Psychological Assessment. This course is distinct from the Systemic and Family Therapy Course, lasts three years, and participation is optional.

You may request a brochure for the Systemic Psychological Assessment Training Course from our Office Team.


To successfully complete the course trainees must fulfill all of the following requirements:

  • Regular attendance to training sessions and completion of the minimum number of hours specified for each distinct course component, as outlined in the Study Guide. The total number of training hours may not be less than 1580. Successful completion of the program requires a minimum of 80% attendance per year, for each training module.
  • Completion and delivery of all written assignments
  • Completion of all oral assignments and presentations
  • A positive evaluation by the Training Faculty on the following set of criteria:

i. Trainee’s verifiable performance on the theoretical and practical components of the course.

ii. Demonstration of cognitive, emotional and social competence. This includes skills in critical thinking, problem solving, conflict resolution and communication, the ability to sustain positive interpersonal relationships with fellow trainees, to recognize and resolve personal difficulties that arise in the process of therapy and to make the most of the supervision that is provided.

iii. Professional conduct.

iv. Commitment to the Laboratory’s Code of Conduct and Ethical Behavior. Trainees cannot invoke ignorance of the Code.

v. Relevant professional experience and practical training acquired since the onset of the course, and outside the educational context of the Laboratory. This must amount to at least 500 hours and be obtained in a counselling or psychotherapy setting. (These hours are additional to the basic course components).

vi. Fulfilment of all financial obligations towards the Laboratory.

Trainers monitor and systematically track the progress of trainees. They meet with them individually to discuss their progress and inform them of their evaluation up to date. A negative evaluation results in a referral to the heads of the Training Faculty, who decide whether the trainee can continue on the program.

Those who complete the training course and satisfy all of the above criteria are eligible for obtaining a Systemic Therapy Training Course Certificate. To receive the Certificate, candidates must have submitted copies of their undergraduate and postgraduate degrees or diplomas to the Laboratory (see “Who can enroll on the course”). Any objections concerning refusal to issue a Certificate to a trainee will be dealt in accordance with the provisions of the Laboratory’s Articles of Association.

Those who discontinue the course before completion, either because they wish to continue the program later in the future, or because they do not meet the criteria for successful completion, are entitled to receive a Certificate of Attendance for the modules they completed.  Violation of the Code of Ethics and Conduct automatically deprives trainees of their right to this benefit.

Note: According to the Laboratory’s Code of Ethics and Conduct, trainees can only use the title of Systemic or Family Therapist after completing the relevant training program and receiving the corresponding certificate from the Laboratory. Their registration with a professional systemic/family therapy association covers them scientifically and professionally, until the establishment of national or European criteria for the licensure of psychotherapists.



The structure and content of each of the four academic years are briefly summarized below. At the start of each year, instructors hand trainees a detailed guide with the course content, methods of practical training, and supplementary information. Some variation, for example in the methods of practical training, are to be expected and depend 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.

As already stated, the training course covers the following areas:

  • Personal (group) psychotherapy
  • Academic theory
  • Practical training
  • Supervision


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 but must ensure that their therapist is registered with a Systemic professional association that is a member of the European Family Therapy Association (EFTA). Trainees must complete a minimum of 300 hours of personal therapy.

Duration of personal therapy is independent of the training course. To receive the final certificate in Systemic and Family Therapy, 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 are already following a therapy program in a different approach are encouraged to complete it in a smooth and appropriate way before joining a systemic therapy program.


Theoretical training is carried out through:

  1. Working Groups (1st, 2nd and 3rd year). Trainees discuss and explore issues related to systemic therapy with individuals, families and groups, gradually focusing on more specialized topics, ranging from issues with psychological well-being (2nd year) to more complex and severe mental health difficulties (3rd year).
  1. Family Therapy Seminars (1st, 2nd and 3rd year). This seminar series familiarizes trainees with the history of family therapy, from its beginnings to its recent postmodern developments. It focuses on issues of theory, methods, techniques and applications.
  1. Seminar series on the Integrative Model of Systemic Therapy (1st, 2nd and 3rd year). In these seminars, trainees discover and explore the history and applications of the model. Along with their practical training in family and group therapy, trainees learn to synthesize ideas, methods, and techniques from various schools of family therapy and other psychotherapeutic approaches, effectively, and in their own personal way, based on the two pillars of the model: The Self-Referential Conceptual System and the Stages of Long-Term Systemic Psychotherapy.
  1. Thesis writing and supervision (4th year). In this series of seminars that concludes their theoretical training, trainees are supported in the writing and presentation of their thesis. The thesis is a case study based on an individual, family or group from the trainee’s practical training or professional practice, discussed and substantiated through engagement with the relevant literature.

The above components of the course’s theoretical training aim to immerse students in the history, theory and applications of systemic family therapy and other schools of psychotherapy. This is achieved through the use of diverse learning methods that include lectures, group discussions, experiential activities such as simulations, presentations by trainees, analyses of recorded therapy sessions, observations of live sessions through a one-way mirror, and others.


In the early stages of the course, practical training may include observing and reflecting on live (through a one-way mirror) or recorded individual, group and family therapy sessions, and practicing through simulations. Gradually, trainees begin to participate more actively in the process of therapy, as trainee therapists.  The specific methods for obtaining practical training and experience may differ depending on the options that are available each year and the location of the course (in Athens or elsewhere).  Detailed instructions are given to trainees by their primary instructor at the beginning of each year.


Supervision is provided during all four years. Trainees bring supervisory material from both their practical training in the Laboratory and their workplace. When presenting material, trainees must adhere to the Laboratory’s Code of Ethics and Conduct. Supervision is also provided to trainees after the end of each two-hour session of practical training in group and family therapy. In Year 4, trainees receive live supervision on their training practice, and feedback from their instructors and peers. Active participation in supervision sessions is essential for successful completion of the course and is taken into account for a candidate’s overall evaluation.


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, audiovisual media for recording and observing sessions, and other.

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.



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.


Throughout the year, the Laboratory organizes workshops and events such as therapy marathons and day conferences, to which trainees are encouraged to participate.


I. Family Therapy and the Systemic Perspective in the wider context of Counselling and Psychotherapy

  • The systemic Approach and the fragmentation of the mental health field
  • Early approaches and current trends in psychotherapy and family therapy
  • The family as a frame of reference in psychology and psychotherapy
  • Developmental stages and types of family
  • The family as a psychosocial system
  • Birth and development of family therapy: Basic concepts and principles of systemic theory
  • Distinct Approaches to family therapy: Psychodynamic, Structural, Intergenerational, Empirical, Humanistic, Structural, Strategic-Communication, the Milan Model, Cognitive-Behavioural.
  • Influences from Adlerian, Existential and Person-Centred schools of psychotherapy
  • Contemporary Trends in Family Therapy:

* Specialized supervision for direct interventions with children and adolescents

* The influence of postmodernism and social constructionism on family therapy (“reality is not discovered but constructed and co-constructed”)

* Integrating attachment theory to systemic thought

* Systemic theory and the brain – Linking systemic theory to new developments in Neuropsychology

II. Applications in Clinical and Counselling Practice, Research, Education, and Work within larger systems (community, work).


  • Diagnozing psychopathology and the Systemic/Family perspective
  • Family assessment instruments (scales, tests, etc.)
  • Diagnostic applications of systemic psychotherapy to adaptational difficulties
  • Treating families in the face of loss and mourning, trauma, divorce, suicide, verbal and physical violence, sexual abuse, incest, substance use, etc.
  • Psychopathology and the Systemic Approach: Mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders and schizophrenia, eating disorders, somatic disorders, personality disorders etc.
  • Linking systemic theory with other theories of personality and psychopathology
  • Health and the Holistic-Systemic approach
  • Combining medication and psychotherapy

III. Skills in Counselling and Psychotherapy

  • Counselling and psychotherapy skills within different schools of therapy
  • Supervised practical training, where trainees become progressively more actively involved as therapists: Starting with observation and analysis of sessions through a one-way mirror or video recordings, students can then attend sessions as trainee therapists, conduct initial consultations with individuals, couples or families, and take a thorough history. At more advanced stages, trainees are in a position to undertake and coordinate family and group sessions.
  • Trainees obtain ample practice, in class, in supervision, and with clients, in formulating systemic hypotheses, designing a treatment plan and evaluating outcomes.

IV. Group Therapy according to the Integrative Model of Psychotherapy and Counselling



  • Synthesis and Integration on a systemic basis, instead of eclecticism in techniques and approaches.
  • Using systemic theory to conduct family therapy without a family present, through individual, couple and group sessions
  • Principles of group therapy:

* Advantages of group therapy over individual therapy

* Types, categories, composition, and dynamics of therapy groups

* The therapist’s role- Developing skills in the coordination of therapy groups

* The systemic & family perspective within the therapy group

  • The Self-Referential Conceptual System and the Three Ecotheories