About the Intensive Certificate Program in Family Therapy

This course creates a supportive learning environment to empower beginning and intermediate family practitioners from a variety of backgrounds to become more skilled, self aware, confident family-centered clinicians, supervisors and teachers. “Intensive” is a program that will enable you to be on a path to master the art of working well with a family approach regardless of the number of clients in the room. Participants gain clarity about their strengths, develop new ways of working and become more articulate about their own model of helping. Special attention is paid to creating a shared group learning experience. The Intensive Program was the hallmark program of the former Family Institute of Cambridge for 35 years. We continue to teach the Intensive Program in the comprehensive, immersive and experiential tradition of FIC.

Our annual weekend retreat on Chappaquidick Island, Martha’s Vineyard is a highlight of the course. In addition to the retreat, we meet for 11 day-long classes scheduled on Fridays every few weeks to promote in depth learning while attending to work life balance. The opportunity to learn then digest, practice and return to learn more enhances the experience.

Helping families through difficult times can be joyful service or a daunting task. Today more practitioners in New England are being challenged to help families support children with serious emotional and behavioral problems at home and in a myriad of settings. Working well with families is a critical way to improve the lives of struggling children, adolescents and adults. Our course supports work with all kinds of families in varied forms. We attend to the needs of families and helping professionals working in all settings.

Family systems models provide a lens for understanding families and the skills to develop a mutually agreed upon focus. Trained family therapists know how to lead conversations so that everyone participates constructively. They also know how to help parents avoid making things worse in attempts to solve problems. Without specialized training, holding meetings with families can be overwhelming, difficult to manage and unproductive. Understanding families as a system with clear patterns helps clinicians do what is best for everyone involved.

Participants will study concepts and methods from a variety of theoretical approaches, including historically important, enduring models and more recent developments in the field. Drawing on their own unique styles and abilities, students will examine their underlying assumptions about families and therapy, developing a relational, empowering systems-oriented clinical stance.

The goals of the Intensive Program in Family Systems Therapy are for participants to:

  • learn conceptual models and clinical practices that highlight family, couple and individual competencies, frame their difficulties in non-shaming, non-blaming ways, taking into account the influences of the larger culture and community, and facilitate a path for growth and change
  • learn a model to hold meetings with families, couples and other working groups with a structure that helps people and the process from getting stuck
  • learn more about and develop their individual strengths in doing the work as they further articlulate their own way of working

Teaching methods include discussions about reading material, didactic information sharing, experiential exercises, live and videotaped interviews. Smaller group work is an integral part of the course, providing the opportunity to attend to each student’s development.

We look forward to enlivening your work and learning together!

Who should apply: Social workers, mental health counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, educators, substance abuse counselors, parent partners and other professionals interested in learning more about counseling individuals, families, couples and working effectively with larger systems. Helping professionals in direct service and supervisory roles are welcome to attend the course.

Directions to Office

203 Arlington Street, Suite 4

Watertown, MA 02472 617-924-9255

203 Arlington Street is a two story brick building on a wide street with free street parking on both sides. You will see a martial arts and gymnastics studios on the first floor of the building. Come up to the second floor and enter the door with #4 on it. There are keys on a side table that open doors to bathrooms in the hallway around the corner from our suite.

It’s best to use a GPS as there are many ways to get to our location including the following routes:

  • 128 North to the Mass Pike via Newton Corner, Watertown Square to route 16 to Arlington Street.
  • 128 South to Trapelo Road East to Arlington Street
  • Route 16 (Mount Auburn Street) from Cambridge to Arlington Street
  • Memorial Drive or Storrow Drive to Greenough Boulevard to Grove Street to Arlington Street


There are buses from Newton Corner and Harvard Square that leave you a short walk from our office.

Clients and supervisees: When you enter Suite 4 on the second floor you will be in the waiting room.

Workshop and course participants: Most of our events take place in venues away from our office. See details on the webpage for each event.