Deliberate practice exercises allow students and trainees to rehearse systemic family therapy (SFT) skills to develop basic competence and hone their own personal therapeutic style so that they can better help families and couples.
These exercises present opportunities for two or more trainees to role-play couples or family therapy sessions with one trainee acting as the therapist and the others acting as clients, rotating through these roles under the guidance of a supervisor. The trainee playing the therapist improvises appropriate and authentic responses to a series of client statements organized into three difficulty levels—beginner, intermediate, and advanced—that reflect common problems and concerns encountered by SFT practitioners.
The first 12 exercises each focus on a single skill, such as building a therapeutic alliance, deescalating conflicts, establishing rules and boundaries, and addressing diversity issues. These are followed by two comprehensive exercises—an annotated transcript and free-form mock therapy sessions—in which trainees integrate these essential skills into a single SFT session.
Step-by-step instructions guide participants through the exercises, identify criteria for mastering each skill, and explain how to monitor and adjust difficulty. Guidelines to help trainers and trainees get the most out of training are also provided.
Tony Rousmaniere and Alexandre Vaz
Part I: Overview and Instructions
Chapter 1. Introduction and Overview of Deliberate Practice in Systemic Family Therapy
Chapter 2. Instructions for the Systemic Family Therapy Deliberate Practice Exercises
Part II: Deliberate Practice Exercises for Systemic Family Therapy Skills
Exercises for Beginner Systemic Family Therapy Skills
Exercise 1. Providing a Systemic Rationale for Treatment
Exercise 2. Building the Therapeutic Alliance: Establishing Bonds and Joining the System
Exercise 3. Reframing the Problem
Exercise 4. Interactional Structuring: Deescalation
Exercises for Intermediate Systemic Family Therapy Skills
Exercise 5. Avoiding Triangulation
Exercise 6. Highlighting Boundaries
Exercise 7. Systemic Questions - Fostering Perspective Taking
Exercise 8. Engendering Hope
Exercises for Advanced Systemic Family Therapy Skills
Exercise 9. Attention to Diversity
Exercise 10. Building the Therapeutic Alliance: Establishing Therapeutic Goals
Exercise 11. Tracking the Interactional Cycle
Exercise 12. Interactional Structuring: Initiating Enactments
Exercise 13. Annotated Systemic Family Therapy Practice Session Transcript
Exercise 14. Mock Systemic Family Therapy Session
Part III: Strategies for Enhancing the Deliberate Practice Exercises
Chapter 3. Additional Guidance for Trainers and Trainees: How to Get the Most Out of Deliberate Practice
Appendix A. Difficulty Assessments and Adjustments
Appendix B. Deliberate Practice Diary Form
Appendix C. Sample Systemic Family Therapy Syllabus With Embedded Deliberate Practice Exercises
About the Authors