Training Programmes

Collective Space offers training programmes to children’s social care practitioners and managers at all stages of their systemic social work development journey; from having had no prior knowledge of systemic social work practice and looking to be introduced to these ideas, through to social workers/ clinicians who have completed their intermediate training and are practising as systemic practitioners.

Collective Space trainers have the knowledge, experience and skills to deliver high quality, robust and effective systemic training that is relevant to a safeguarding context and that helps to contribute to effective social work services to children and families. Our social workers have completed the intermediate level training and our family therapists have all practised within statutory children’s social work.

All the trainers continue to hold roles or practise within children’s social care and will bring their own live case examples into the training.

We work closely with the organisation with whom we are delivering the training and we seek constant and ongoing feedback in order for us to be able to respond to organisational need. We also offer feedback into the system so that there is a recursive process of learning and growth.

Introduction to Systemic Social Work

These three days are an opportunity to explore some key ideas from the field of systemic practice and understand their application within the social work context. Students will learn how systemic social work makes a difference to children, families and social workers. They will have the chance apply these ideas to case examples and will leave the training with practical skills to take into their own practice.

Day one begins with an overview of the basic concepts of systemic theory. This will include an introduction to ideas such as cybernetics and homeostasis as a way of understanding the function of complex systems. Attention will be given to power imbalance within and between systems, and ‘resistance’ from service users will be explored in relational terms. John Burnham’s social ggrraaacceeesss will be introduced in order to support the understanding of how difference and diversity can impact on and influence systems.

Day two will introduce students to the Milan systemic approach with a focus on hypothesising as a way of managing uncertainty and complexity in a safeguarding context. The theory and practice of circular questions will enable practitioners to understand how questions can be used as interventions in order to bring about change.

The final day of the course demonstrates how the genogram can be used as a therapeutic tool to use with families and in order to promote systemic thinking in case discussion. All the learning from the previous two days is consolidated on the final day, which has a practical focus and allows students to implement the theory and techniques that they have acquired over the three days. Throughout the three days, students are given real life case examples from our tutors’ own practice as well as being encouraged to bring their own material for discussion.   This training is aimed at social work practitioners who are new to systemic social work and are interested in developing a basic understanding of the core ideas.

Foundation Year in Systemic Social Work with Children and Families

This 12-day foundation year introduces social workers to a range of evidence based systemic models and considers their application in a children’s social care context. Within this programme, there is an emphasis on using systemic theory to help formulate ideas about case work, and many opportunities for practice of various approaches, methods and techniques that might be used to support change and develop helpful interventions with families.

Students are encouraged to think about issues of power and how the position they hold in relation to the family, might impact on the work and professional relationships. Students will understand the application of systemic social work practice through case studies that are brought by the trainers, but also by bringing their own anonymised case work.

At the end of the programme, practitioners will be able to lead a systemic case consultation by presenting a succinct summary of areas of risk / concern, a three-generation genogram and initial hypotheses about patterns which might be maintaining family difficulties. They will be able to take a reflexive position in relation to their own ideas, inviting new perspectives and considering how to take ideas forward in their work with the family. A written assessment from their current work will form the basis of an assessed paper, as well as another assignment designed to evidence case formulation using systemic ideas.

Although targeted to case holding social workers, the course may be suitable for practitioners with other qualifications who are working directly with children and families in a range of settings including early intervention services, residential settings, youth offending, parental mental health or drug and alcohol services.

This course has been accredited to a Foundation Level by the Association of Family Therapy and Systemic Practice in the UK (AFT).

Systemic Practice for Management and Supervision in Children’s Social Care

This six day programme will provide an overview of key systemic ideas which comprise the foundation year in systemic practice so that managers are familiar with concepts and approaches that social workers will begin to apply in practice.

Our students will consider how these ideas might be useful in the supervision and management of case work and how to create a culture of contribution within staff teams which attends to issues of power, use of authority and self-reflexive practice.

The programme will enable students to become aware of the organisational processes and procedures that either support or constrain the practice of systemic social work and how they may contribute to building a productive practice context.

Brief Solution Focussed Practice in a Safeguarding Context

Brief solution focused practice (BSFP) has been a favoured approach within Children’s Social Care, though of recent times concerns have been raised around the risk of the ‘rule of optimism’. This course will equip our students to consider the applicability of BSFP within a safeguarding context, paying attention to both the opportunities and the constraints of the model.

The programme has a high focus on practice skill and students will be considering the use of solution focused questions on case studies.  There will be a theoretical overview of the theory of BSFP and its theory of change will be considered.

It will also address the issue of ‘reluctance’ and will offer tools to assist with the process of change. There will be many opportunities for practice on this course, with the emphasis being on learning to ask the most helpful BSFP questions in order to bring about change.

Analytical Writing in Children’s Social Care

The analytical writing 2-day programme will enable students to understand how to consider and connect ideas and theories privileged within the Local Authority practice framework (systemic practice, restorative, trauma based) alongside their observations and direct work with children and families and then convey them within written form.

Students will understand how to take a methodical and systematic approach to their work, considering the essential components of assessment work, whilst holding and analyzing complex ideas about family systems and risk.

Systemic Ways of Working with Trauma

This course is designed to address the complex issue of working with families where the effects of trauma are present.  This course will consider both the immediate and long term behavioural and emotional effects that violence and abuse can have on individuals, family and wider systems.

The dilemma for many social workers is trying to assess the risk to children whilst at the same time, attending to the effects of trauma upon parents and caregivers and the wider system. Issues of power in relationships will be explored and systemic concepts such as social ggrraaacceeesss, family scripts, patterns, beliefs and life cycles will be used to formulate ideas about family functioning.

Practitioners will be encouraged to think self-reflexively about how to manage their own responses to this work and to have awareness of the personal and professional impact of working in the context of trauma.

Working with Parental Mental Ill Health in Families

This course is designed to support professionals to think about how to work systemically with children who live in families where parents are experiencing mental health difficulties.

The two day course will explore the impact of parental mental ill-health on the parent, the child and the family, and will consider what interventions are most helpful. Adult mental health services support parents, but the link between adult and children’s services is often not sufficient in order for the child’s experience of the parents’ ill-health to be fully addressed. Students will be encouraged to think about who is responsible for protecting these children and how we can promote more joined up approaches to the work. This course will focus on how exposure to parental mental ill-health impacts on children, and how we can mitigate some of the risks to them by promoting resilience. Ideas for supporting children with these difficulties without having to refer to outside agencies such as CAMHS will be explored.

The course will offer ideas about how we can support children and young people to construct coherent narratives in order to manage and make sense of their experiences in the family system. 

Working Systemically with Adolescents

This 2 day programme will consider what it means to work systemically with adolescents who are involved with Children’s Social Care. Working with adolescents can be very challenging, and practitioners can find themselves struggling to consider the risk posed from CSE, gang involvement, alcohol and substance misuse, disengagement with education as well as intra-familial abuse and neglect.  We know that these young people can quickly find themselves on the ‘edge of care’. This programme will consider how to offer effective support and intervention using many of the key ideas from systemic approaches.

The changing family life cycle will be considered as one model that helps to consider why this stage of development and transition presents such great challenges in family systems.

Other ideas in relation to brain development, peer pressure, cultural difference and impact on relationships will be considered. The course will focus on how   professionals can use systemic approaches and interventions with parents to improve their relationships and adapt their parenting with their teenage children to promote young peoples’ identity, hopes, problem solving skills and safer relationships.

The course will also encourage workers to consider their own personal experiences of adolescence and consider how this might influence their responses to risk. It will also examine the organisational/societal/political pressures in relation to risk that either constrain or support the work with adolescents.

Building Systemic Practice Leadership ‘train the trainer’

This course has been designed for practitioners who are in positions of leading and embedding systemic practice within their organisation or have some responsibilities for workforce development. Students may be employed as social workers, managers, clinicians or trainers. This course will focus on developing students towards being able to take a lead role to enable others to use systemic practice more effectively and to increase the use of systemic practice within the organisation. Live supervision and feedback will be used to enable students to convey concepts to others with clarity and confidence.

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