The Australian Association of Family Therapy Inc. recognises the importance of the accreditation of training programs in Family Therapy within Australia.  The accreditation procedure are designed to guarantee that a graduate of these programs has a high standard of clinical practice and is able to offer a professional service to families consistent with AAFT’s code of ethics.

This document refers specifically to the accreditation of training programs.  Programs, which meet the criteria listed below, will be deemed to satisfy the training component of AAFT clinical membership.  Decisions regarding individual membership remain the responsibility of the clinical membership sub-committee of AAFT.

The accreditation process is intended to promote consistent quality and excellence in the education and training of family therapists and to provide tangible benefits for prospective students and clients wishing to access family therapy.

Accreditation is intended to protect the interests of students, benefit the public, and improve the quality of teaching, learning, research, supervision and professional practice.

The accreditation process involves assessing the degree to which a programme has met AAFT training standards and achieved the goals and objectives of its stated training model.

Accreditation is a voluntary, non- governmental process of self- review and external review intended to evaluate, enhance and publicly recognise quality in family therapy training.


 1.1  Introduction

 1.1.1  Applicants for family therapy training programs who wish to become clinical members of AAFT must have met the requirements listed below. They are presumed to have knowledge and a skills base in the social and health sciences or other relevant fields. Family therapy courses build on these already acquired skills and extend them into family therapy competencies.

1.1.2  At the discretion of the director of training, applicants without these formal requirements may be admitted to a program.

1.2  Admission Principles 

1.2.1  Applicants should have completed a basic qualification in the health or social sciences or have equivalent qualifications. These standards should be at least Bachelor Degree or equivalent in terms of level and depth of training, as defined by the Australian Qualification Framework.(

1.2.2   Applicants need to demonstrate the presence of some fundamental human capacities as a pre-requisite for beginning training as a family therapist. These capacities can be demonstrated through live interviews, observing student’s participation in an experiential workshop and referees.

1.2.3   Self-awareness. Applicants need to demonstrate the capacity to relate in a facilitative way with others and to reflect on and examine the impact of these actions.

1.2.4  Applicants should demonstrate a capacity to understand and practice ethical behaviour and be prepared to follow a code of ethics, which is an integrated part of the training program.

1.2.5  Applicants should demonstrate the capacity to reflect on and learn from experience, including being open to positive and challenging feedback.

1.3     Selection Process

1.3.1  The process of selection should be non-discriminatory on the grounds of gender, class, cultural background, sexual preference, disability, age or beliefs. 


2.1     Introduction

2.1.1  Curricula for family therapy training should reflect the philosophical foundations of AAFT.  Complementary to intra-psychic therapy training, family therapy focuses on the space and the interactions between people and also the importance of context, as the source of health or dis-ease. These concepts should be reflected in both theoretical training and clinical practice.

2.1.2   AAFT requires a curriculum that is core as outlined in 2.3. There can also be elective components that reflect the identity of the program, such as specialist study in particular family therapy models for example trauma therapy.

2.1.3  Students should formally evaluate their supervisors and learning experiences.

2.2         The Core Curriculum Introduction

Application for accreditation must include a detailed course outline including references, assessments and assessment criteria.

2.2.1  Each training program should make a clear statement of the philosophy of training in the course and give evidence that the guidelines of this document are being met.

2.2.2  AAFT accredited curriculum should be based on an interactional understanding of people’s lives.

2.2.3  Total training-program hours should be 250. At least ten hours of supervision with families should be completed whilst in the training program. Training hours should be completed in two sequences of at least two levels of complexity and with duration of at least two years. 

2.3         Core Principles of Learning

The learning environment needs to be set up according to the following principles:

2.3.1  A sensitive environment in which the student feels supported emotionally and in the learning process.

2.3.2  Opportunities for practice, reflection, experimenting, and training delivery.

2.3.3  An active partnership between students and teachers which includes the opportunity to reflect interactively on theory and practice and to receive appropriate feedback on performance.

2.3.4  Clearly articulated learning goals, with a course content and process appropriate to those goals.

2.3.5  Adequate physical facilities to enable a learning experience to occur.

2.3.6  The course should include the following subjects or their equivalents

Training in clinical practice should be informed by family therapy theories and the link between theory and practice should be clearly articulated in the course document.

2.4         Core Content Areas

The course should include the following subjects or their equivalents 

s    An overview of the history of the development of family therapy

s    Developmental stages of family life

s    Clinical practice to specific client populations including for instance: children, adolescents, and elderly

s    Socio political influences

s    Models of assessment and intervention

s    Referral and referral options

s    Ethics of clinical practice and supervision

s    Theories and processes of family therapy

s    Integrating and understanding human diversity including culture, gender, age, ability, class, religion and ethnicity.

s    Further development of self awareness

s    Familiarity with research on effectiveness of family therapy

2.5         Self of the Therapist 

The study of the self of the therapist includes exploration of family of origin and contextual influences.

Students should be given clear explanations for exploring family of origin in the context of training. Students should be adequately prepared for the impact of this activity on them personally and professionally. 

As family of origin issues are central to self-awareness and to functioning within the therapeutic relationship, a component of the program should include an exploration of the family of origin of the students and its impact on their emerging practice style.

The training should include an exploration of the impact of the wider contextual issues on clinical practice not just family of origin.

The training should include an awareness of the impact of the socio-political content on clinical practice. 

The course should include a component of self-awareness (e.g. roles plays, reflective writing, class discussions) as part of the training. This must be a minimum of 20 hours duration and may include group or individual therapy, self-awareness experiences, or family therapy. 

An understanding of how one may use one’s self in the therapeutic relationship should be integrated within the training program according to the particular model in question. In addition students should be encouraged to have experiences as a client in a modality compatible to the one in which they are training. 

Should a student need counselling, it should be encouraged as a way of deepening personal congruence and self-awareness. It should be sought in a way which does not disadvantage either the counselling itself or the student’s participation in the training program. 


 3.1         Introduction

 The family therapy student should demonstrate not only knowledge of the theory of family therapy but also ability to operationalise this theory in competent clinical practice. These should be clearly articulated in the handbook or course outline.  Assessment criteria should be clearly spelled out and made available to students at the commencement of the course in the prospectus.

3.2         Theory

Assessments may include:

s    A demonstration of knowledge of therapy through written assignments, examinations, oral presentations, case studies and contribution to class discussion. 

3.2.1  Students should receive relevant and detailed feedback on all assessment tasks as soon as possible after submission. 

3.2.2. Structures should be in place for assessments to be marked fairly, including second marking options in case of disagreements. Extension policies in case of illness should be clearly articulated to students in written form. 

3.3         Clinical skills

The experiential learning environment should be conducive to demonstration, participation and reflection.

The experiential learning environment should include the following.

s    A setting with observational and or other interactive supervision capabilities.

s    Procedures that ensure that the client’s confidentiality and legal rights are protected.

s    Clinical skills should be assessed via live supervision, video and audio taped interviews and case discussions.

s    Areas of clinical practice competencies should be clearly articulated and guidelines for achieving these should be named and made available to the students at commencement of the course.

s    There should be feedback procedures to students on competencies achieved and areas for future development. 


 4.1         Introduction

Supervision as an essential part in this document refers to supervision linked to training programs. 

Supervision is a formal, collaborative process between supervisor and supervisee, which monitors, develops and supports supervisees in their clinical role. Supervision is an essential component of any training program. Supervisors must play more than an administrative role during supervision and seek evidence of clinical competence by their supervisees. 

4.2     Principles

4.2.1  Clients should be informed that supervision constitutes an integral part of training and ongoing clinical practice for the family therapist

4.2.2  Methods of supervision include live interviews, audio/video tapes, process/case notes.

4.2.3  Supervision may be conducted either in one-to-one or small group settings.

4.2.3 Groups should not normally be larger than six participants.

4.2.4 Client consent should be sought as a precondition for taped or live interviews.

4.2.5 Supervision should include a clear supervisory contract with an approved supervisor.

4.2.6  The level of supervision should be appropriate to the level of complexity of the course being offered.

4.3     Requirements 

4.3.1  A component of ‘live’ supervision (in vivo, video, audio) is required.

4.3.2  Supervision should facilitate students to integrate new knowledge.

4.3.3  Supervision should stimulate students to demonstrate a variety of models of clinical practice.

4.3.4  Supervision should offer a range of formats including individual, group, live, video, audio, case presentation, and discussion of issues.

4.3.5 Supervision should address issues of ethics in clinical practice. 

4.4     Supervisor Credentials 

4.4.1 It is the task of AAFT to determine the qualifications required by supervisors who prepare trainees for membership. (Refer to the AAFT document for the accreditation of Supervisors)


 5.1     The training program faculty should consist of:

s    The director/s who may/may not be directly involved in the teaching.

s    A minimum of 2 trainers plus invited lecturers/educators.

s    All teaching staff should be clinical members of AAFT and practicing family therapists and practicing supervisors.

5.2     Training Director/s’ Credentials

 5.2.1  Director/s of training should have higher qualifications in family therapy (masters or PhD) or equivalent training.  Experience in mentoring and/or teaching is desirable.

5.2.2 The director/s of training should be familiar with a range of models of family therapy.

5.2.3 Director/s of training and staff members are bound by the AAFT Code of Ethics.

5.2.4. The following qualities apply directly to those who have the primary responsibility for a training program, in particular to the director/s of training:

s    Five years of AAFT clinical membership.

s    Demonstrated ability to provide supervision in the area of family work.

s    Evidence of ongoing professional development in family therapy practice and give evidence of such development when required.

s    Evidence of ongoing supervision of clinical practice.

5.2.5 Director/s of training should foster curiosity and exploration in students.

5.2.6 Director/s of training should not be in breach of professional ethical practice and should make sure that the same principle applies to students.

5.2.7 Director/s of training should engage in respectful interactions with students and facilitate an atmosphere of open and honest expression of thoughts and feelings relevant to the training.

5.2.8  Director/s of training should not discriminate between students on the basis of gender, class, cultural background, sexual preference, or any disability or belief that does not directly interfere with the competent and ethical fulfillment of their training role.

5.2.9 Director/s of training should make sure that all courses are evaluated by the students, and that the feedback is made known to the director/s and the appropriate lecturer/trainer.

5.3     Trainers

5.3.1 The training program should demonstrate that it has resources of appropriate quality and sufficiency to achieve its objectives.

5.3.2 Trainers other than the director of training who have primary responsibility for substantial aspects of training delivery, and are designated as trainer rather than tutor or visitor etc., should meet the same criteria, with allowably fewer years of experience than director/s. 

5.3.3 The training faculty should:

s    Number at least two (2) individuals who have relevant degrees appropriate to family therapy education.

s    Have relevant preparation and experience in teaching family therapy

s    Identify with the profession of family therapy and have full clinical membership of AAFT


6.1     Program descriptions and requirements are published and disseminated to all prospective students.

6.2     A clear procedure for responding to enquiries of prospective students identified and carried out.

6.3     Prior to or at the beginning of the first term of enrolment in the training the following should occur for all new students:

s    A new student orientation is conducted

s    A student handbook is disseminated that includes the institutions and/or the training program’s:

The syllabus should include all of the following:

s    Objectives.

s    Content areas.

s    Required texts and or readings.

s    Method of instruction, including a clear description of how content is delivered (e.g. lecture, seminar, supervised practical application, live supervision and family of origin exploration).

s    Student performance evaluation criteria and procedures

–                appeal policy

–                student retention policy explaining procedures for possible student remediation and or dismissal from the training

–                information about family therapy associations and involvements and activities potentially appropriate to students in training


(Refer AAFT Code of Ethics) 

7.1         The training program should have clearly articulated grievance processes in place and made available to all students.

7.2     The course administrators and staff should develop a mechanism by which student feedback is received – evaluation forms, and SRC or other forum where the student voice is heard.


8.1     Auditing Process 

8.1.1  The training programs are audited every five years for reaccreditation.

8.1.2  The auditors will ensure that all guidelines upon which the training program were accredited are achieved.

8.1.3  The auditors will ensure that curricula is current.

8.2     Guidelines for Auditors 

8.2.1  The auditors panel shall consist of AAFT members.

8.2.2  Auditors will be members of the accreditation panel.

8.2.3  The Chair/Convenor of TAD Committee will notify the training program of the auditing process.