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Master’s Family Therapy Course Clinic

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A limited number of free family appointments are available during the school term through The Bouverie Centre’s Master’s Family Therapy Course Clinic.

A photo of students in the observation room studying the counselling session in the adjacent room.

About the Master’s Family Therapy Course Clinic

As well as seeing families, The Bouverie Centre, La Trobe University, is a major provider of postgraduate training in family therapy for people who are already practising as professionals in the health and welfare field (e.g., psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, youth workers, alcohol and other drugs counsellors, psychiatric nurses, and so on). For many years our practically oriented courses, which are strongly grounded in theory, have helped future family therapists expand their current clinical skills and acquire new ones to enable them to work effectively with families. Many families have also benefited from the professional counselling they received as part of The Bouverie Centre’s Masters Family Therapy Course Clinic.

Who do families see?

Master’s Family Therapy Course Clinic sessions are conducted by student-therapists – helping professionals currently working in the field completing postgraduate training in family therapy. Each appointment is observed by a small team of students and an experienced supervisor who offer support, advice and feedback to the therapist and the family, as appropriate.

What happens during appointments?

The process is very similar to appointments offered as part of the general program. Read more about what happens in a general family appointment.

One major difference is that unlike appointments in the general program, sessions conducted by student-therapists are observed by a small group of other student-professionals (up to 6) and their supervisor. (You are welcome to meet these observers or the “reflecting team” as we call them, before the session starts.) The reflecting team sits behind a one-way mirror to observe the family and the student-therapist’s conversation.

Once during each session (usually towards the end) the family and this reflecting team physically change places. The family and the student-therapist move behind the one-way screen and listen to the team discussing the family’s conversation. They may have comments, suggestions or questions when talking about what they just watched. Some people in the team might not even agree, or express a different view. This is probably good as family members can then choose whatever opinion(s) they think fit best. The reflecting team’s discussion is designed to be helpful to families and the situation they are grappling with.

After the team has had a 10 to 15 minute chat, the two groups swap rooms again, and the family is invited to comment on what the reflecting team members have said and what the experience was like for them.

Click here to watch a dramatised version of the reflecting team process.

What do other families have to say about the reflecting team experience?

Although the reflecting team process may seem  strange and perhaps even scary, the feedback from most families is that it is valuable. Families also have the advantage of their therapist receiving supervision about their work from the supervisor and team which helps them in their sessions with you.

What range of difficulties do you treat in the Master’s Family Therapy Course Clinic?

Master’s Family Therapy Course Clinic appointments are available to families where there are a range of concerns such as adolescent issues, school difficulties, parenting challenges, bereavement, and difficulties relating to one another.

Unlike the Master’s Family Therapy Course Clinic appointments, family therapy sessions offered through our general program do not usually have the benefit of the reflecting team. They are typically offered to families experiencing complex issues associated with serious mental illness (such as schizophrenia), the effects of trauma, child protection involvement and other difficulties which have not improved with previous treatment.

How do I arrange an appointment for my family to attend the Masters Family Therapy Course Clinic?

You will need to speak with an intake worker

First time I heard about this I thought I would feel uncomfortable, with so many people watching us… but really, once you are here, you really forget about people being behind the screen and your way of engaging us and asking questions … what you do is really good … I feel really comfortable … I think they (my family) also do and it’s helpful.

For me, once we have discussed the issues that brought us here and we go behind the screen and hear the comments that the specialists make on us, it is very insightful. You can really think about what you hear and try to do better.


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