Learning Family Therapy through Experience
The opportunity to learn and practice family therapy with a team of very experienced academics and under the guidance of therapist Dr. Karl Tomm was very challenging and profoundly enriching.
As someone returning to social work practice after many years away, I may have been just a little terrified, at least some of the time. Still, I dove into the learning head-first. I read as much as I could, I overcame the fear of being observed and asked for supervision from as many senior clinicians as were available, I video-taped and observed my own sessions. I brought my challenges to supervisions with my field instructor.
I practiced building and nurturing collaborative relationships with families. I used the genogram to collect information and to assess the family's troubling patterns. I engaged with the families and collaborated with them to identify the pathologizing interpersonal patterns they were faced with. I used the IPscope model to work with the families towards transformational patterns of interaction.
I studied the relational and collaborative approaches taught and exemplified by Dr. Tomm and many senior clinicians at the CFTC. I applied the theory of the IPscope (Tomm et al., 2014) and learned to utilize Dr. Tomm's approach to identifying pathologizing patterns of interaction within the families, as well the as healing and wellness patterns that already exist and that can be built on through collaboration with the families.
I engaged with the team of fellow interns from many disciplines and asked for their reflections and feedback on the cases I worked on. I studied and explored the theory behind the practice of reflecting teams, and I participated in as many reflecting teams as I was able.
Throughout the practicum, I had the opportunity to develop my goals through the learning agreement, and to continually reflect on my learning and development through a journalling process. I include three sample journal entries, which demonstrate my progress and learning.
Sample Journal Entries
I am well aware that this opportunity to study postmodern approaches and practices in family therapy is a very rare one, and that this context is unique and special in many ways.I feel very honoured to have had this opportunity and I want to continually learn to practice and nurture these ideas and skills in my future endeavours.