Activities of AFT in relation to the Family and Systemic by dfhercbml


									       Activities of AFT in relation to the Family and Systemic
                 Psychotherapy Workforce/May 2009

It seems useful with so much going to do a brief summary of some of the
work that is being done by the organisation to support the development of
the family and systemic psychotherapy workforce. Work is of course also
being done by UKCP and I will also refer to this as the 2 organisations
work closely together. This work involves many SFT colleagues and I am
reporting on it in my role as project lead for Training and Workforce

Research and Evidence Based Practice

You will all know that Professor Peter Stratton is employed on a part time
basis for AFT and is engaged in promoting research within the field as
well as arguing for a widening of acceptable research to inform NICE
guidelines. He is also chair of the UKCP Research Committee and in this
way can promote collaboration around the crucial areas of evidence based
practice. You will know how vitally important it is to promote the
research base for SFT. Many colleagues have used Peter’s work to make
arguments for resources within the workplace.

The development of the SCORE measure for use in evaluating clinical
practice is being supported by AFT. Peter Stratton (for AFT), Julia Bland
(AFT member and employed by South London and Maudsley Trust) and
Emma Janes are leading this, and a number of AFT members are on the
development group including myself, David Amias and Renee Singh.
The project is in the process of reducing the items to 12 and very shortly
will embark on the next stage. This represents a great deal of work but it
should be a useful tool for research and outcome measurement.

AFT has been very active in responding to a whole range of NICE
consultations of all kinds. Jenni Webster is now paid a small honoraria to
co-ordinate this piece of work and is doing an admirable job. The impact
we can make is often small but it is important to keep our voice active
and to work hard to influence the process. Peter Stratton and Jan Parker,
together with other AFT members have also worked hard on these
Professional Standards

It is important to highlight the ongoing work of the CRED and
Registration committees who work hard to set, maintain and monitor
professional standards of training and practice in psychotherapy and
supervision. This includes responding to many queries from members. It
is also important to acknowledge the work of the PAC and the Board of
Assessors in contributing towards standards of practice in the workplace
and the ethics committee which offers a range of advice relating to
workplace ethics as well as dealing with complaints. My temporary
appointment for one day a week is to work on the whole range of
workforce skills in working with families, but because of the current
urgency of Skills for Health and HPC work, my focus has been on issues
relating to the Family and Systemic Psychotherapy workforce.

The National Occupational Standards work has included membership on
the expert reference group ( chaired by Peter Stratton) and the Skills for
Health working group (chaired by Eia Asen). A number of members of
AFT were on those groups and I , together with Lorraine Davies Smith,
was on specifically to represent AFT. We are pleased with the standards
that have been developed and these should be published by the end of the
year although they can be found on the Skills for Health website. The
standards represent the activites, skills and knowledge of someone
qualified as a family and systemic psychotherapist and can be used in
many different ways e.g. training, appraisals, job descriptions. It was very
important to ensure these were fit for purpose.

Health Professions Council/Statutory Regulation

You will all know that the work of the Professional Liaison Group for the
regulation of psychotherapy and counselling is in its final stages and
Statutory Regulation is on track for the end of 2011. Although we did not
succeed in getting modality representation on the PLG we have been
liaising closely with the UKCP rep and responding to various requests
and consultations. I am going to observe the group for 2 days at the end
of May when many detailed decisions will be made. After this time
individuals will apply directly to HPC for registration. Those currently on
the UKCP register will be transferred. UKCP ( and therefore us) are
represented by Kathy Murphy who is doing an excellent job. The Section
60 order which will put statutory regulation in place will be presented at
the end of the year so the timetable is very short and a lot has yet to be
decided. Together with UKCP We are arguing for a masters level entry to
the register for psychotherapists. It is likely that the HPC process will fall
short of our current requirements, especially in relation to the curriculum
content. AFT will continue to have a role in developing the content of
courses, specialist trainings and CPD. We would remind you all of the
importance of keeping good records of your CPD.

You will have been aware of some opposition to state regulation by some
psychotherapists. AFT’s position has always been one of privileging
protection of the public and co-operating with the process. Statutory
Regulation will not be completely watertight and abuses may still occur
but it is certainly a better system than currently when anyone “struck off”
by an organisation can continue to practice under the name of a

We will keep you updated on further developments.

Savoy Partnership/New Ways of Working

The Savoy Partnership has the mission of widening the group of therapies
included in the Increased Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT)
initiative. There has been a good deal of concern that CBT might become
the only available therapy. A number of New Ways of Working
workstreams have been set up to look at the issues relating to these issues.
Peter Stratton is on workstream 1 which is on research and I am on
workstream 2 which is workforce development and Ellie Kavner is on the
workstream relating to multi disciplinary working. It has been important
to be part of this and keep the voice of Family and Systemic
Psychotherapy loud. A report will be written from the group about the
workforce requirements.


AFT has been very active in opposing the government policy to withdraw
funding from universities for students who are studying for an equivalent
or lower level qualification that one already held. Because of the
requirement for a prior professional qualification, this is likely to have a
strong effect for training in Family and Systemic Psychotherapy where
many candidates will already have done postgraduate study. We also
require the first 2 years to be at postgraduate level which would mean no
funding for students moving on to qualification. The full impact of this is
not evident yet, though one set of courses is likely to close . We are
keeping up the opposition but as yet there is no policy change with the
next review in December.

HOFT and other Google Groups

AFT supports the HOFT list which allows Heads of Family Therapy to
share experience and expertise across different services. A successful day
was run last November updating and sharing practice relating to New
Ways of Working and its implications for the Family and Systemic
Psychotherapy Workforce. Unfortunately a follow up day had to be
cancelled because of poor attendance. Other lists such as the one for the
voluntary sector encourage professional support in different sectors.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

As well as developing and implementing CPD policies, the organisation
publishes the Journal of Family Therapy and Context, both of which
contribute to the effectiveness of the workforce. Annual conference and
other events through the year provide opportunities for CPD.


The work done in Europe by EFTA ( and the EPA) is working towards a
common platform for psychotherapy in order to aid employment across
Europe. Clearly it is important for us to be in step with this to ensure
Family and Systemic psychotherapists in the UK will have benefit of
developments. David Amias, Peter Stratton and Arlene Vetere are
particularly involved in European activities

External Relations

This is an extremely important area of work for the profession as the
acknowledgement of the need for work with families is a crucial driver
for employment opportunities and the development of services. Jan
Parker is employed for a day a week by AFT and has done superb work
in this area. This includes parliamentary liaison with both government
and opposition, responding to consultations, networking with other
organisations, working with the media ( radio, newspapers, television),
arranging presentations to all party parliamentary groups, letters to
newspapers e.t.c. e.t.c. At every opportunity there is a promotion of the
importance of a strong family and systemic psychotherapy workforce.
The new “What is Family Therapy leaflet” developed by Jan in
consultation with others has invited excellent feedback and will be a good
advertisement as well as useful explanation of what we do. Copy
enclosed with this issue.


We are a member organisation of UKCP and many of our interest overlap
so that working closely with UKCP is essential. Maire Steadman has been
our rep to FCSST section of UKCP for some time and I have just joined
her as it has been difficult to find another rep since Nancy Graham
stepped down after many years of service. I have been rep before and
only intend to do it for a short space of time whilst the current
developments and changes are happening. As well as working through
section and the UKCP political action group to promote and work on
issues already outlined e.g. HPC, research, NOS, NWW, there are also
big developments in the shape of UKCP and its functions post statutory
regulation. Clearly it is very important to deliver what will be most
beneficial to our modality and promote our registrants in the workplace.

The Office

AFT supports an office in Warrington and the office staff spend a great
deal of their time on matters relating to registration, regulation and
professional affairs. They work extraordinarily hard for the organisation
and we are very lucky to have them. The website is an important
advertisement for what we do.

The Future

Recently a Strategic Development group has been established by AFT
and it includes some key people in the organisation ( including 2
members from PAC) to develop and contribute thinking to the Board and
Executive. It began by focusing on external relations and gaining a voice
to speak for all matters relating to mental health needs of the family. At
the last meeting it was decided that at the next meeting there will be a
focus on the organisations role in relation to the workforce of Family and
Ssystemic psychotherapists. For example the relationship with the union,
UNITE is not as strong as it has been in the past and it may be useful to
put energy in building up better links to help members in these turbulent

In my role I have just completed a survey of Family Therapy trainings so
we can map our workforce from the training end – who we train, numbers
we train in different parts of the country, previous professional
background, ethnicity e.t.c. This is welcomed by the NWW workforce
workstream. I will also complete a survey and profiling of the professiona
and all family work our members are involved in, by November. I will
also finish developing a leaflet for commissioners which will fit with one
being developed for all psychotherapy.

There are many changes afoot – statutory regulation for example will
change the functions of AFT and we need to do some strategic planning
in order to meet the challenges and opportunities of an organisation post
statutory regulation. The changes in UKCP will have big implications for

The contexts in which we work are ever changing and the recession can
only make that more difficult. We need to look again at our training to
ensure that the knowledge and skills are fit for purpose and the

Many psychotherapists especially in the NHS are very concerned about
the changes in the workforce. Jobs have been lost and regraded and
uncertainty is made worse by the current round of tendering services.
Opportunities for employment are patchy across the UK. We need to join
with other professional associations to work together to ensure high levels
of practice and to strengthen out relationship with unions so that members
are better advised and protected. Future changes in relation to Statutory
regulation will mean we have to look again at the role of AFT and leave
us more free to think about support for members when we do not have
involvement in complaints and registration.

However … we are only a small organisation – under 2000 members and
only about 700 UKCP registered psychotherapists. We have achieved a
great deal. Twenty years ago there were only a few posts for family and
systemic psychotherapists and only a few qualifying trainings. We are
now one of the main modalities in psychotherapy with an increasing
evidence base. There is an increased reference to family therapy in the
media and we are approached by government based groups for
information and consultation. We managed to gain good gradings in
Agenda for Change ( some would say this was a mixed blessing) . We
have robust standards and methods of regulation and monitoring. A great
deal of immediate energy must now be focused on the future and role of
the organisation post regulation and UKCP changes. It is important that
members feed back in relation to services that would be helpful to them
and which would support them in their roles. This is an opportunity for
new ideas to help shape the future. Under consideration is the role of
“professional officer” and what that might look like, and what might be
covered that is not already covered by other people within the
organisation. When our responsibility for complaints is taken from us by
HPC it means we are more free to take on other supportive roles in
relation to our members. It is an exciting time but also a worrying time
for many of our members and we pledge to keep you informed. However
it is important for you to watch context for further news and to wherever
possible to add your assistance to the work of the organisation. In the next
Context I would like to answer questions about Statutory Regulation. It
would be helpful to have your questions as soon as possible. Please email
me on

Further update and clarification on supervision register

Supervision: One of the current AFT agendas is to build up and
strengthen the register of supervisors. Together with UKCP we
acknowledge the importance of good quality supervision and the fact that
supervision skills are not the same as therapy skills and require further
training. The quality of supervision and consultation in training courses ,
CPD or workplace supervision, is a vital aspect of workforce
development and quality assurance for the profession. It is the intention
that once the register is more comprehensive the requirement for a
registered supervisor in training and CPD will become the norm. You will
already be aware that the CRED committee under the leadership of Paula
Boston has done a revision of the RED Book and this is available on the
AFT website. It is now possible for courses to deliver a training in a
year. There will need to be some modifications to the Red Book in the
light of work being done by skills for health , UKCP and the AFT
registration committee so it will not be produced yet in hard copy.
However the basic structure of the course has been decided so that
courses can plan changes.

We can be justly proud of the supervision trainings that have been
available for a number of years and they train to a very high level. Our
concern is that we may be asking systemic therapists to undertake
training that is way beyond that required by other psychotherapy and
other mental health professionals and therefore place systemic
psychotherapists at a disadvantage in the workforce. Those of you who
have done or are doing current supervision trainings may feel disgruntled
but you have had the opportunity to train at an exceptionally high level.
We will be bringing out a re-registration and CPD process within the next
year and in recognition of the cost of training we will not be charging
those who trained under the old red book for the next renewal of

The ethics committee is undertaking to develop some ethical guidance for

We urge all those who have previously trained as supervisors to apply for
registration. At the moment there is no time limit following training for
registration but this may change.

The registration committee is developing a very limited APEL route for
supervisors which we hope will help those who missed grand parenting to
get on the register and also those who have trained outside the UK. There
will be a requirement shortly for some CPD relating to supervision.

You will know that the registration committee agreed that anyone who
has worked clinically and supervised concurrently for 10 years could
apply to the registration committee to do supervision only and retain
UKCP membership. We have had a handful of applications from
members who have retired from clinical practice. We have also agreed in
the committee that for those who only do a small amount of supervision (
less than a day a week) then they only need to have consultation to that
work 3 times a year( minimum) and that consultation could be peer
supervision. Clearly statutory Regulation will impinge on this but we or
UKCP may hold the supervision register.

Judith Lask
Project Lead Training and Workforce Development

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