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London Borough of Hackney

London Borough of Hackney is a Local Authority children’s services provider employing more than 300 staff to work with vulnerable families.  Our staff group comprises qualified social workers, student social workers, systemic family therapists, psychologists and exprienced parenting practitioners. We are the first social care service in the country to state clearly the methodological approach to our work.  Our view is that we should use a systemic approach in all our practice, management and leadership and that our interventions with families should be designed using social learning theory as the key way to create change in parenting interactions.

All practitioners in our multi-disciplinary social work units are expected to become familiar with systemic practice and with a range of behavioural interventions and their application to work with families, through our comprehensive training programmes.

What We Mean by Family Therapy & Systemic Practice

Systemic Practice is where the practitioner is using a range of techniques and methods of work from the systemic tool kit, but is not engaged with the family as the focus of therapeutic practice in what could be described as family therapy. This may involve using systemic techniques with the professional network, school staff plus young person, etc. Family Therapy is where the Clinician is engaged in a therapeutic session (or series of such sessions) with the family in an explicit agreement to address their issues by meeting together in a managed conversation. This will be of a specific technical kind, depending upon the issues and the evidence base.


Levels of Systemic Practice:

Reflecting on your own practice with a systemic lens - active reflexivity

Bringing in the ‘wider system’ in discussion - introducing a view of the systems

Thinking systemically with colleagues - case discussions with systemic input

Networking - working systemically with SWU colleagues with the wider network

Formal consultation to professionals, including within the SWU

Systemic practice - using systemic tools in a broader range of practices

Family Therapy - systemic FT sessions in a course of work


Leonardo Project Aims

Our short-term aims through the Leonardo Project are to learn about current practice and training in systemic social work in the EU and to promote common principles and differences beyond the partnership – to other countries and within England to agencies which wish to develop systemic training programmes for social workers. In the long-term, this may lead to developments in systemic social work training across Europe, a larger workforce of systemically trained social workers and improved outcomes for children and families.

STEP: Systemic social work Throughout EuroPe

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