Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 335–347 | Cite as

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

  • Paul Rhodes
  • Chai Nge
  • Andrew Wallis
  • Caroline Hunt
Original Paper


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.


Family therapy Self of the therapist Personal development 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Rhodes
    • 1
  • Chai Nge
    • 1
  • Andrew Wallis
    • 1
  • Caroline Hunt
    • 1
  1. 1.Clinical Psychology UnitUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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