Systemic counselling (A complete guide)

In this brief blog, we will be talking about systemic counselling, what happens in systemic counselling, the concerns addressed in systemic counselling, and more information about systemic counselling.

What is systemic counselling as a kind of counselling?

Systemic counselling is a kind of counselling where the mental health of the child and the parents are being given the emphasis on to help the family dynamic become healthy.

This kind of counselling will be addressing the development of the family members. 

This kind of counselling uses the family relationship as a key source in forming the solutions of the current concerns in the family.

This kind of counselling will be giving family members to talk about their concerns in a non-judgmental and confidential environment.

This kind of counselling will be looking on the support for each family member where the guilty family member is not placed in a horrible light by the other family members since they believe that the specific family member should be in trouble.

In this case, every family member has his or her own side regarding the current concern in the family and it is up to the counsellor to guide the conversation to make sure that no one in the family is left unspoken in this kind of counselling session where the chance to speak is very crucial. 

This kind of counselling has its basis on its early form which was family therapy but this was not always focusing on the family.

In this case, this kind of counselling will be seeing the relationship between family members and use it to guide the conversation in the family in this kind of counselling.

History of systemic counselling

Psychoanalysis is a school in psychology that has first made this kind of counselling.

You might be familiar with some of the psychoanalysts such as Sigmund Freud who is more focused on the family relationship being only with the mother, father, and child or children.

The anthropologist Gregory Bateson was the founder of this counselling ever since he started his research in Palo Alto in a hospital.

He was assisted with this colleagues where they were studying schizophrenic families.

He was famous in his theory that he found in schizophrenic patients which were known as double bind.

This is when patients with this kind of disorder would use delirium to escape from reality due to an apparent contradiction between reality and expectations. 

In this case, this kind of contradiction is about being given orders but leading to either action might lead to punishment.

For instance, you might be told to be obedient and be more individualistic.

Jackson and Ackerman founded the General Systems Theory which became a major theory for this kind of counselling.

This kind of theory has made its way to the process of this counselling.

Systemic models used in systemic counselling

This model used for the counselling practice follows these aspects:

  • It is impossible not to communicate in any relationship. This theory depends on the idea that all behaviour is communication such as silence. Additionally, this counselling considers that it is possible to have situations in which the symptom itself is the kind of communication.
  • The mechanisms of the processes are self-regulated by feedback from the counsellor.
  • There are two levels of communication which are the digital or content level and the analogue or relational level. If there is disorganisation between the two levels, then paradoxical messages are present.
  • The interaction is conditioned by the ratings that the participants are present. This means that based on the features the counsellor develops from what people see and experience, people will decide the relationship they’ll have with other people and vice versa. So the lack of agreement on how to evaluate the facts is the root of many conflicts in relationships.
  • There is a system of principles and rules that the systemic therapist must know which are the recognized rules, the symmetrical rules, the secret rules and the target rules.
  • Even so, each systemic school also has a series of strangeness.

What are the concerns addressed by systemic counselling?

The concerns that will be addressed by this kind of counselling will be discussed below and this kind of counselling uses the scope of a relationship to find patterns that might have caused the present concern.

This kind of counselling has a large range of issues that can be addressed which are the following:

  • emotional issues
  • depression issues
  • Concerns associated with addiction
  • gambling
  • sex and relationships
  • money
  • eating issues
  • anxiety
  • panic and PTSD

You can have this kind of counselling in either short-term or long-term but you will have to discuss this with the counsellor.

What occurs in systemic counselling?

In this kind of counselling, you will have your first meeting concentrated on assessment.

This kind of consultation will let the counsellor know about the present concern that you and your family members are facing.

This kind of session will be followed by the session where the counsellor will tell the family about how this kind of counselling might work.

The counsellor will then remind the family members that he or she will not take any sides while this kind of counselling is ongoing.

The counsellor will also talk about how this kind of counselling will focus on how each family member is thinking about the concern that is occurring in the family right now.

This kind of counselling will help family members to communicate better with each other and without any sense of being the dominant one in the family. 

The counsellor will also talk about the confidentiality surrounding this kind of counselling where secrecy will only be limited when danger might fall on the family members or others outside the family.

This kind of counselling can help each family member support each other with the present concern at hand.

The family members will also discuss with the counsellor if this kind of counselling will work on solving the family concern.

Each family member will be supported in openly responding to the present concern.

College qualifications that should be met by counsellors in systemic counselling

There are several colleges that are opening training courses that are associated with family counselling such as the following which have proven to be helpful:

  • (CFCST Continued Professional Development Policy)
  • (CFCST Policy for ECP holders applying to join UKCP)
  • (CFCST Reaccreditation Policy)
  • (CFCST Standards of Education and Training)
  • (CFCST Supervision/Consultation Policy)
  • (CFCST Supervisor Reference Form)

Purpose of taking systemic counselling

This kind of counselling will help people learn more about their interpersonal styles of relating to other people.

This kind of counselling will help you find independent methods of getting along with others in your own way which may start in the family. 

This can help people accept the fact that they need to change.

This motivation can help them uncover the restrictions that they may have in getting away from change and being able to move forward to it.

This is where family therapy can come in to make sure that this kind of counselling serves its purpose.

You should know that family systems are very crucial in life since they are the first relationships that we will have in life which can serve as an example of how to deal with relationships. 

This kind of counselling is only used to find out unhealthy behaviours that are occurring in the family.

This kind of counselling is not looking for a space where you can blame a guilty family member on the present concern. 

This kind of counselling can offer each family member the space to support each other.

This kind of counselling should be used to help family members realize that they are part of a system that can treasure them without any judgment.  

This kind of counselling will also allow the counsellor to know how you work with relationships.

This kind of counselling will help you understand how you do in your relationships and find some processes that needed to be changed.  

In this case, you will get enlightenment on how you work as a person whether you are focusing on your thinking style or behavioural patterns.

This is when you will work with the counsellor on what needs to be changed and find methods that are useful and comfortable for you which the counsellor will be patient enough to discuss to you about.

This kind of counselling is helping you to understand what you need in a relationship so that you have a better way of dealing with them.

The awareness of your needs will allow you to change your relationships for the better. 

In this case, this kind of counselling is trying to make you independent in a way that you are not hiding behind dependent lifestyles which might be your former way of getting a relationship.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of systemic counselling?

As mentioned before, this counselling can be long-term or short-term whichever kind you may prefer.

This counselling does not concentrate on the past which might be an advantage or a disadvantage for you. 

If you want to focus on your past since some meaning might be hidden there that might have caused your present concern.

You might need to go through other forms of counselling such as psychoanalysis, trauma, and individual counselling.


In this brief blog, we have talked about systemic counselling, what happens in systemic counselling, the concerns addressed in systemic counselling, and more information about systemic counselling.

If you have any questions about systemic counselling, please let us know and the team will gladly answer your queries.

FAQs: systemic counselling

What is meant by systemic forms of influence?

The systemic forms of influence are those factors that might affect the school culture.

For instance, you might be influenced by how your parents are able to form good relations with the school in your presence which can lead to a positive influence in the school as well.

How does systemic family therapy work?

Systemic family therapy works by helping people in the family relationship to compensate the strengths that are within family members to make distressing symptoms of an affected family member to minimize thanks to family support by that family member’s side.

What is systemic thinking in family therapy?

Systemic thinking in family therapy is an element that is used to find the deeper conditions that may have caused the present family concern.

This can help this kind of therapy to move forward with the family clients.

This kind of element in this kind of therapy is also the foundation of couple and family psychology research and practice. 

What techniques are used in family therapy?

The techniques that are used in family therapy are the structural model, the systemic model, the strategic model, the narrative model, the communication model, the transgenerational model, psychoeducation, and relationship counselling. 

What is an example of systems thinking?

The examples of systems thinking are the fact that animals will use plants to utilize some resources that might be lacking due to a disaster that is heading in the forest such as wildfires.

This kind of thinking is defined as the system of comprehending how things influence each other as a whole.


Counselling Buckinghamshire. Systemic therapy.

Wikipedia. Systemic therapy (psychotherapy).