Director of IFT

We are delighted to announce that Dr Rachel Watson has now taken up the post of Director of the Institute of Family Therapy.

Rachel is an experienced systemic family psychotherapist, supervisor, trainer, and leader. Rachel trained at IFT, and taught on the foundation level courses between 2005-2009, so in this sense the appointment is a ‘homecoming’.

Prior to taking up the post of Director she was Lead Clinician and Professional Lead for Systemic Practice in Cambridgeshire Children’s Social Care for 5 years, having worked in the service previously. She was responsible for a large team working with families across all service areas, successfully growing and sustaining an innovative service. Prior to this she worked in different areas of child and adolescent mental health services in the NHS in London, including community child and adolescent mental health services, adolescent residential services, and in adult mental health settings.

Rachel comes from a northern white-british background, is married to a man, and is a mother. She is interested in how systemic practice takes place using dialogue to create inclusive conversations. She completed her doctoral research at the Tavistock on this topic and has introduced the concept of Jointly Created Authority from Conversational Analysis literature, showing how examining the minutiae of talk can invite understanding of how power operates at different levels, and has recently published this work in the Journal of Family Therapy (1).

Throughout her career to date Rachel has looked to develop innovative approaches to address organisational service dilemmas. She has successfully delivered a number of projects looking to increase access to services for different groups of people and invite collaborative effective responses by services. Rachel’s current areas of interest include working with complex situations with multi-agency networks where risks are high; and using systemic practice to address dilemmas of leaders and managers in complex organisations, particularly at times of transformation (2).

(1) Watson, R. (2018) Jointly created authority: a conversation analysis of how power is managed by parents and systemic psychotherapists in children’s social care. Journal of Family Therapy Early release:

(2) Watson, R. (2018) Familiar ideas for changing times, our Cambridgeshire experience continued: using ‘approach, method, technique’ to address innovation and sustainability. Context. Issue 159 pp. 9-13.

The next Director of IFT

I am really pleased, on behalf of the staff, members and trustees, to announce that we have successfully appointed Dr Rachel Watson to be the next Director of the Institute of Family Therapy.  .She will be taking up the position in September.

Rachel comes to us from a background in both health and social care, as well as teaching and publishing in different contexts. We are very much looking forward to working with her, and are confident that she brings a range of experience, knowledge and ideas that will support the Institute in both honouring it’s history alongside developing, with staff and trustees, the future direction of IFT.

Kate Waters
Chair of the Board of Trustees

Director – Institute of Family Therapy


An exciting opportunity has arisen for the post of Director of the Institute of Family Therapy (IFT), the leading independent family therapy organisation in the UK.

This coincides with the relocation of IFT’s London office to the Thomas Coram Foundation. The new post holder will be responsible for renewing and refreshing IFT’s activities that build on a secure financial and reputational foundation.

We are seeking an enthusiastic, energetic leader to sustain IFT into the future whilst honouring its 40 years of experience in systemic training.  If this is you,  please send your cv with a covering letter explaining why you want to apply for the post, and what skills and knowledge you would bring, to:

Nadia Tosic
Director of Operations
Institute of Family Therapy
24/32 Stephenson Way
London NW1 2HX

Closing date for receipt of applications: April 15th, 2019
Interview dates: May 2nd and 3rd,  2019

To arrange a conversation with the Chair of the Board of Trustees please call Nadia in the first instance on: 020 7391 9150 or email
IFT Director: job description and person specification

All that jazz

Last week those of us who attended the IFT AGM were treated to a sneak preview of a chapter of the book currently being written  by  Richard McKenny who delivered the Annual Robin Skynner memorial lecture on Reason, Metaphor and Theory in Systemic Thinking: The Case of the Jazz Metaphor.  Richard’s philosophical know-how and expertise places him at the forefront of the next wave of developments in systemic practice.  All present came away with plenty of insights to be digested over the wine and nibbles which followed.

This annual event is a must for our members!  See  you next year.

Research advertisement: Couple therapy for Intercultural Couples

Are you experiencing a difficult time or conflict in your couple relationship? Are you thinking about seeking couple therapy to address these issues?

We are looking for intercultural couples, who are willing to attend couple therapy as part of a research study. Our research broadly focuses on couple cohesion and satisfaction amongst intercultural couples in the U.K. Follow this link for further details.

Welcome to Hendrix Hammond

New Appointment at IFT

The Institute is delighted to announce the appointment of Hendrix Hammond to our in-house training team.

Hendrix joined us in September and is taking over the reigns of our Families and Couples and Child Focused introductory and intermediate courses.  Hendrix has a wide and varied background, having started in a YOT service with ‘hard to engage’ young people with an offending history. He then worked in primary schools with families where a child had been identified with an emotional/behavioural difficulty.  Hendrix  moved to the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships where he worked as a group facilitator and supervisor running parenting groups for high conflictual parental couples. Most recently he has worked in CAMHS undertaking short term mental health assessments and short-term interventions with a variety of clients. Hendrix also has a wide variety of training expertise and experience, and is already making a significant contribution to our courses.

We have great pleasure in welcoming Hendrix to our team!


Welcome to Iris Corrales, Assistant Director, IFT

I am delighted to welcome Iris Corrales to the Institute of Family Therapy as Assistant Director. Iris comes with extensive experience of working within other contexts, such as CAMHS services in East London where she was instrumental in building bridges between CAMHS and social care. She is well known to IFT through her work over many years as a supervisor in the MSc Systemic and Family Therapy course where she has contributed to the development of excellent services to both supervisees and families. Iris has accepted responsibility for driving forward several initiatives between IFT and social care environments and will explore other avenues of income generation into the future.

We are thrilled that Iris has decided to join us and we hope to make the best use of her extensive talents in practice, supervision and consultation to further expand our reach into new contexts of practice.

Dr Barbara McKay

Graduation Ceremony in the Tri-Borough

The Institute of Family Therapy has completed the first wave of training in the Tri-Borough area of Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham and The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The Focus on Practice team arranged a graduation ceremony on the 9th of June for all of those who have completed their courses, both practice and supervision courses. The ceremony was held in Kensington Town Hall with opening speeches by Clare Chamberlain, Director of Family Services, RBKC for the Tri-Borough and Barbara McKay for the Institute of Family Therapy. Clare was a leading voice in creating opportunities for training and maintained her enthusiasm throughout. She also attended systemic training in her own right with the rest of the Leadership team.

IMG_4641 The whole event was uplifting with lots of enthusiasm for the achievements at all levels of the agencies.  These first graduates from the courses are now a fantastic resource for others to follow and will provide the impetus for sustainability which is the next phase of the development. Many of the graduates wish to apply for the Intermediate course which is part of the training initiative and it seems that places will be in great demand.

The afternoon was completed with tea and cakes in an informal setting to encourage networking between staff in the three boroughs and to make links for future practice. The whole event was very well received and a good opportunity to mark the success of large numbers of staff who found time and commitment to complete demanding training courses.

Congratulations to all for the resounding success.

Barbara McKay

The Institute of Family Therapy and Frontline

Over the past three years the Institute of Family Therapy has constructed and delivered systemic courses embedded in the Frontline Masters in Social Work. This has been an interesting period in IFT’s development and consolidated the status of our institute as a leading systemic training partner in social care contexts.

IFT has been associated with Cohorts 1 and 2 in the Frontline programme which has included Foundation and Intermediate level systemic training. This contract reaches its completion in summer 2017 with Cohort 2 students completing their Intermediate level course which forms the masters’ year in social work.

Students who have studied the systemic option for the Intermediate year have given excellent feedback and several students from Cohort 1 have chosen to continue their systemic journey through the MSc in Family and Systemic Psychotherapy. This is a welcome development as those students will contribute to a growing body of systemic practitioners and therapists in social care environments. We anticipate that there will be a similar level of interest from Cohort 2 students for further training.

Frontline has now taken all courses in house from Cohort 3 onwards and IFT will no longer participate in construction or delivery.

This has been an exciting time for all of us involved in the course and we will continue to enjoy our time with the students as they work towards course completion.

Dr Barbara McKay, Director

January 2017

Agency Based Training at IFT

Agency based training has become a significant pathway for the Institute to share systemic ideas and practices with Social Care and Health professionals.

Since the publication of the Munro review in 2011 many local authority Social Service Departments have embraced the reports recommendations, introducing a more systemic model of Social Work practice.

The Institute has been invited to deliver Foundation, Intermediate and Supervision systemic trainings with a number of local authorities, including Essex, the Isle of Wight and Stoke-on-Trent, where we have now agreed to deliver our eighth Foundation course, totaling 200 participants.

The Institute has also been invited to offer a number of shorter trainings for Health Trusts.

We are hopeful that new opportunities to influence practice with families in health organisations will emerge over the coming year.

Richard Mc Kenny
Director of Agency Based Training