Theory and Practice

Practicum Training in Couple and Family Therapy

As a student you will train with clinical faculty in an on-site clinic, providing therapy services to fee-paying clients from the greater Guelph community.  The Couple and Family Therapy Centre (our on-site clinic) works from a "best practices" approach. This means that you will be trained in relevant, current, and recognized therapy practices, client documentation and team consultation practices, as well as to integrate relevant research findings into your work with clients.

In addition to the academic courses, you will take a sequence of four on-site practica and one externship, providing you with 500 hours of direct client contact. Each on-site practicum (300 practicum hours of direct and indirect client service) involves 12 weeks of clinical seminars, team practice and group supervision, and 15-16 weeks of intensive individual and partnered supervision with clinical faculty. In the final semester of the program, you will work as an Extern in a community agency three to four days a week; you will be supervised during this externship by an AAMFT Approved Supervisor or Supervisor Candidate from within the agency (350-400 practicum hours).

Over two years, you will be an active Therapist-Intern at the CFT Centre, seeing clients each week and receiving  approximately 150 hours of supervision of your clinical work using video-recording of therapy sessions or "live" supervision and consulting team work. Since our program places a strong emphasis on supervision, the ratio of client contact to supervision is approximately 3 to 1. At least half of the required 500 hours of direct client contact/experience you will achieve while in the MSc.CFT program will be working with couples and families.

Comprehensive Theoretical Foundation for Clinical Practice

Within the two year, six semester program, you will complete a (minimum) total of 12 academic courses. 

  • Three courses are focused on relational/systemic practice, theories, and models of CFT. Another course surveys theories relevant to the study of family relations and human development. 
  • Five courses are offered in the area of clinical treatment with individuals, couples, and families, and develop competencies in treatment approaches for a range of diverse presenting concerns and diverse client groups; these include the areas of sexuality and intimacy, child and parent relationships, family transitions, trauma and resiliency, loss and grief, and aging, etc.
  • A course in professional issues and a course covering aspects of diversity and power relations in clinical practice are offered across several semesters to allow consideration of these important topics as you gain clinical experience.
  • Finally, you will take at least one course in Research Issues in CFT; as a thesis student you will be required to take either a (Quantitative) Research Methods course and a Statistics course, or a Qualitative Methods and Analysis course, and to participate in a weekly Research Seminar.

Excellence in Professionalism and Accountability

As a CFT student, you will take a specialty course in Professional Issues that is primarily focused on ethics, standards of practice, provincial policy related to child welfare and family law, and working with multi-disciplinary teams. Specifically, you will learn the professional Code of Ethics for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and the Professional Practice Standards for Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. The "best practices" model we follow in our onsite clinic includes commitments to be accountable to a broad range of stake-holders, including, most importantly, the CFT Centre clients. You will be trained to track client outcomes, and invite your clients to participate in the bi-annual "Client Satisfaction Survey" administered by CFT Centre staff.

You will be trained to view clinical issues from multiple perspectives and to collaborate with other professionals (e.g., school teachers, doctors/psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists) when appropriate. As a graduate you will have extensive experience working as a member of a clinical team and as a supportive colleague in group supervision.

Sensitivity to Multiculturalism and Diversity

As an MSc. CFT student, you will be trained to work effectively with people who are culturally diverse, including, but not limited to diversity based on gender, ethnicity, race, income, sexual fluidity, and physical and/or cognitive ability. Cultural and multicultural dimensions of human experience are highlighted and integrated throughout the academic and clinical courses. These are also part of supervision conversations about the therapist-intern's clinical work. When you graduate, you will have a sophisticated understanding of how diverse cultural influences may be embedded in the issues people wish to focus on in therapy and practice skills to facilitate therapy conversations that include these influences. You will also be invited to consider your own self-awareness and use of self as a therapist in interaction with others.

In recent years, reflecting our commitment to diversity and inclusivity, we have graduated a greater number of trainees who are immigrants to Canada, aboriginal, people of colour, people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as those who require various physical or learning accommodations.  In addition to their research and clinical work with diverse populations and communities, the faculty, including full-time and sessional instructors and supervisors, are a relatively diverse group in terms of age, countries of origin, first language, family configuration, sexual orientation, and a range of other identity dimensions.

Research competence

Research is an integral component in the program; as an MSc.CFT student you will devote time and effort to developing competence in this area. In all of your academic courses, you will gain competence in reading CFT research and understanding how this can guide your practice as a therapist. In clinical practica, you will learn about the research evidence that supports these models of CFT. You will gain skills understanding the application of evidence-based practice research as well as research utilizing practice-based evidence. You will complete your degree either by writing a Major Research Review Paper (non-thesis option) or by conducting research/analysis and writing a thesis. These final research products can be uploaded to The Atrium - the University of Guelph institutional repository of scholarly resources. In this way, your research work can be accessed and utilized by psychotherapists and CFT practitioners all over the world.