Family therapy training

Master of Clinical Family Therapy

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On this page:  Course descriptionQuick course guide; Entry requirements; Course structure; Teaching methods; About our staff; AssessmentsWhat can it lead to; Fee type; Estimated fee amount; Next steps; FAQs

Course description

This is a highly regarded Master’s level course that has been running for over 20 years in one form or other. It developed out of the Postgraduate Diploma in Family Therapy that started at Bouverie in 1989. It is ideal for psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, youth workers, drug and alcohol counsellors, psychiatric nurses, or workers from other professions such as teaching and general nursing who are suitably qualified and want a change of career. It offers a solid grounding in systems theory, as well as lots of experiential work as applied to individuals, couples and families, including supervised clinical practice in a live family therapy context in teams of no more than six students. The feedback we receive, along with our experience as educators, suggests this is the very best way to acquire the requisite knowledge and skills of family therapy.

The Master of Clinical Family Therapy is a nested program. As such, if you exit prior to completing Level 3 of the Master’s degree you may still be eligible to receive a qualification in family therapy, providing you have completed the required subjects. For example, if you decide to leave after having passed the requisite Level 1 units, you may be awarded a Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy. Similarly, should you opt to discontinue your studies after successfully progressing through Levels 1 and 2 of the course, you may exit with a Graduate Diploma in Family Therapy.

Quick course guide

Qualification: Master’s degree
Duration: Three years part time, but may be shorter depending on your pathway into the course
Campus: The Bouverie Centre, Brunswick
Mode of Delivery: Level 1, Blended; Levels 2 & 3, Face-to-face
Enrolment Dates: One intake each year. Applications close 31st October

Entry requirements

Level 1 Entry (Graduate Certificate Level) 

Minimum of an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in a counselling, health, community or welfare field. Applicants do not have to be employed in a specific counselling or therapy role to apply but must have some working relationship with at least two families on an ongoing basis throughout the year.

Level 2 Entry (Graduate Diploma Level)

Past graduates of Bouverie’s Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy (or equivalent from another institution) are welcome to apply for Level 2 Entry. Preference will be given to those with at least two years’ experience in working with families and/ or counselling.

Candidates that have completed a four-year degree in a related discipline, or a bachelor degree plus an approved fourth year of study, and have at least two years’ experience working with families as a case manager or a family counsellor (or can substantiate equivalence) may also apply for entry at the second level of this course. Note: this cohort will be required to complete Bouverie’s four-day Introduction to Family Therapy workshop (or equivalent from another institution) before commencing the course.

Level 3 Entry (Master of Clinical Family Therapy)

Previous graduates of the Graduate Diploma of Family Therapy from The Bouverie Centre, La Trobe University (or equivalent) are encouraged to apply for Level 3 entry.

Each applicant’s suitability for the course will be determined by an interview and application process. Unsure if you qualify for entry? Contact us: (03) 9385 5112 or

This course is not available to international students.

You must be a current Victorian Working with Children Check cardholder.

Whilst studying, you must be working within a counselling or therapy role which allows you to carry a caseload of at least five families at any one time, particularly at Levels 2 and 3. A proportion of these cases can be individuals or couples but you must be working with at least one family at any one time and be working in a context that supports further family work. This can either be a paid or voluntary position. Unable to see many families in your workplace? Speak to us about the possibility of joining one of our Clinical Practice Groups - (03) 9385 5112 or

Course structure

Level 1 Entry (See Graduate Certificate of Family Therapy)

This 180 credit point Master of Clinical Family Therapy program runs over three years. Level 1 comprises four units of study and combines face-to-face modes of delivery with technology-supported, flexible learning practices.

Level 2 Entry

This 120 credit point Master of Clinical Family Therapy program runs over two years. It comprises four units of study, each of which combines theory and clinical supervision and is valued at 30 credit points. Teaching and learning activities are largely face-to-face.

Level 3 Entry

Level 3 entrants in the Master of Clinical Family Therapy program will be expected to complete 60 credit points over one year. This course of study comprises two units of study, each of which combines theory and clinical supervision. Teaching and learning activities are largely face-to-face.

Study Sequence

Level 1 (Graduate Certificate Level) (See Graduate Certificate of Family Therapy)

Semester 1

  • Family Work Skills (FTH4FWS)
  • Systemic Practice in Family Therapy: Concepts and Issues (FTH4PCI)

Semester 2

  • Family Work Interventions (FTH4FWI)
  • Family Therapy: Worker Self-Analysis and Integration (FTH4TSI)

Level 2 (Graduate Diploma Level)

Semester 1

  • Family Therapy Theory and Practice A (FTH5TPA)
  • Academic Integrity Module (LTU0AIM) *

* Compulsory for all newly commencing undergraduate or postgraduate coursework students

Semester 2

  • Family Therapy Theory and Practice B (FTH5TPB)

Level 3 (Master’s Level)

Semester 1

  • Family Therapy Theory and Practice C (FTH5TPC)

Semester 2

  • Family Therapy Theory and Practice D (FTH5TPD)

Download a copy of the Master's subject guide, 2019 subject timetable and calendar here. 

Teaching methods

Level 1 (Graduate Certificate Level)

  • Didactic teaching (lectures), live and pre-recorded demonstrations, guided reading, class discussions and practical skills development work in small groups (e.g., supervised role play and other interactional procedures that help in the integration of new concepts).

Levels 2 & 3 (Graduate Diploma and Masters)

  • In Levels 2 & 3 of the course you will spend four hours in a small group of up to 6 participants with an experienced clinical supervisor. During Level 2, you will learn by observing your supervisor working with families and by conducting sessions at The Bouverie Centre with families from your own workplace. There will also be opportunities for video and role play presentations. With the assistance of your supervisor, you will explore the contributions that personal and work context issues play in your development as therapists. In Level 3, you and fellow group members will see families seeking assistance at The Bouverie Centre, with the rest of the training group observing from behind a one-way screen. The team, including your supervisor, act as a coach and as a reflecting team whenever this is appropriate. This intensive, “hands on” experience of developing family therapy skills is consistently rated by our students as the most challenging, educative and valued aspect of their training.
  • You will also be expected to attend two hours of theory classes each week during Levels 2 & 3 of the Master's. These classes are designed to equip you to understand the philosophical underpinnings of many of the models of family therapy, to explore various contemporary applications as well as consider some methodological issues in family therapy research.

About the academic staff

You will meet a range of staff during your course, including The Bouverie Centre’s student services officer, lecturers, small group supervisors and course coordinator, Robyn Elliott.


100% course work. Assessment in Level 1 (Graduate Certificate Level) is based on a combination of presentations, written assignments and reports, journaling, skills demonstration, and online quizzes. In Levels 2 & 3, assessment comprises written assignments, case analyses, presentations, and evidence of clinical competency on a formalised set of skills. 

What can it lead to? 

The overall aim of the course is to extend the knowledge and skills acquired by clinical workers in their undergraduate education and subsequent work experience so that they can work effectively as family therapists in a wide range of therapy contexts.

Graduates of the Master’s course, with additional supervision, will be eligible for clinical membership of the Australian Association of Family Therapists (AAFT) and to practice as accredited family therapists.

Fee type

Full fee paying - where you pay the full cost of each semester up front, or defer using FEE-HELP if eligible. (Some Commonwealth Supported places may be available.) Click here for further information.

Students enrolled in Year 1 of the Master's MUST pay the full cost of Family Work Skills (FTH4FWS) upfront to The Bouverie Centre by the end of Jan. There is NO option to defer payment for this particular subject via a FEE-HELP or a HECS-HELP loan.

Once you have successfully completed an assessed version of The Bouverie Centre's Family Work Skills workshop, you will receive 15 credit points advanced standing/credit toward your course. 

Estimated Fee Amount

Full-fee paying place - $32,100 for 180 credit points ($10,700 per year).

Next Steps

1. Apply for the course online here.

2. Please ensure the Family Therapy course specific information in the Personal Statement section in the online application is completed.

3. Please ensure certified academic transcripts and other relevant documents as listed on the Application Checklist are uploaded to your online application.

Experiencing technical difficulties in submitting your application? Contact Future Students on 1300 135 045 for assistance. For course enquiries, course information pack or to be added to our database, please call us on 03 9385 5112 (direct) or email

Closing date for applications is 31st October on the year prior to entry. Missed the closing date? Contact us. We may accept late applications.

4. You will be notified as to whether you have been successful in progressing to the second stage of the selection process. If successful, you will be required to attend a 45 minute interview at a pre-arranged time during November/December. This interview takes place in two parts:

  • Part 1 - you will be required to conduct a brief session with a "role-play family" to demonstrate your ability to engage a family in relation to their presenting issues. This role-play will take approximately 15 minutes. You will then have a chance to discuss the role-play with the interviewer. 
  • Part 2 - in addition to answering questions about your suitability for the course, you will have an opportunity to ask us questions to satisfy yourself that the course is appropriate for your personal and professional needs.

Recommended Preliminary Reading

The History and Principles of Family Therapy by Dr. Geoffrey Goding. This is a monograph published by the Australian Association of Family Therapy (AAFT). It costs $25 and is available through AAFT.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click here for frequently asked questions including eligibility, application process, course structure and timetable. For further queries, please contact our Student Services Officer at 03 9385 5112 or


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