1st Edition

Systemic Perspectives in Mental Health, Social Work and Youth Care A Relational Compass

    196 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    196 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Systemic Perspectives in Mental Health, Social Work and Youth Care describes the theoretical foundations of a systemic framework, or ‘systemic lens’, and how the counsellor, therapist, social worker or other health professional can apply these ground principles in therapeutic meetings with clients.

    The book presents a wide variety of perspectives and interventions, multiple examples, and practical methods, applicable to professionals with a range of experience. A case study covering a diverse family of three generations is presented throughout the book to clearly illustrate systemic perspectives, concepts, and practices. This accessible book will inform and enhance the therapist’s practice and conversations with individuals, couples, parents, groups or networks, even in the presence of psychopathology, multi-stressors or complex networks.

    This highly readable guide will be essential reading for systemic practitioners of all backgrounds, as well as professionals looking to understand systemic approaches, and for those working in social work, youth care or mental health who want to enhance their current practice.

    Preface; Series Editors' Foreword; 1. Does 'the family' exist? 2. A systemic lens 3. The practitioner 4. Something needs to change 5. The start of the working alliance 6. Mapping 7. Positioning 8. Settings matter 9. Individual vulnerability in context 10. Multiple and complex problems 11. The systemic practitioner in action 12. Change: An epilogue


    Anke Savenije is retired but worked as a psychologist, psychotherapist and systemic therapist. She is the co-founder of The Amsterdam Institute of Family Therapy, a centre for systemic therapy, training and supervision.

    Justine van Lawick is a psychologist, psychotherapist and systemic therapist. She is a co-founder of the Lorentzhuis, a centre for systemic therapy, training and consultation in Haarlem, The Netherlands. She is a senior trainer in The Netherlands and abroad.

    Ellen Reijmers is a psychologist, psychotherapist and systemic therapist. She is director and head of the psychotherapy training programme provided by the Interactie-Academie, a systemic training and therapy centre in Antwerp, Belgium. She is editor in chief of the centre’s professional journal, Systeemtheoretisch Bulletin, and a senior trainer and supervisor.

    'This accessible and hugely engaging text sets out both to explain systemic principles for professional practice and to support the development of systemic thinking in practice. The book explores the different ways in which we look at and understand families and their relationships, and importantly, why we might look in the ways we do. The authors follow the generations of a particular family system throughout the text and with their lively writing style draw us into the family members’ experiences –their loves, their challenges, their dreams, their hurts and misunderstandings, and their successes. The authors invite us into the safety of the therapeutic context with the family members and clearly describe the unfolding of the therapeutic process, as they weave together the intra-personal with the inter-personal, social and developmental contexts of life. I strongly recommend this book as a practical and foundational text for training in health and social care practice. The sub-title of the book is ‘A Relational Compass’ – a strong metaphor to guide us the reader through the complexities of family life and to help make them more understandable, manageable and open to change.'

    Arlene Vetere, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Family, VID Specialized University, Norway

    'This brilliant practice-orientated book provides a systemic compass to help practitioners to stay on course, with clients and therapists together confirming, debunking and changing their experience(s) of reality. Exercises at the end of each chapter invite the reader to reflect on their own practice and the personal contexts that contribute to their responses during the therapeutic process. A fascinating exploration of the different lenses needed to work systemically with a wide range of families in diverse settings – highly recommended to anyone interested in systemic practice!'

    Eia Asen, Professor Dr. Anna Freud Centre, UK

    'I would like to endorse Systemic Perspectives in Mental Health, Social Work and Youth Care: A Relational Compass by Anke Savenije, Justine van Lawick and Ellen Reijmers. This English translation will have special relevance for mental health practitioners including psychiatrists, doctors, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, family therapists and social workers who seek to apply a systemic, contextual, and family-centred practice framework. It draws on an ever-increasing evidence-based literature that acknowledges the value of applying a ‘systemic lens’ across a range of psychiatric diagnoses and presenting issues. The dual theory and practice focus of the book including useful homework exercises will have appeal for both beginning and experienced practitioners especially the detailed illustration of therapeutic work with the Dufour family across several chapters as well as the inclusion of a wealth of practice examples to illustrate the finer points of systemic therapy. English language readers will appreciate the focus on context in therapy conversations between therapists and clients and other systems and the book provides a useful and easily understood map for systemic practice across a range of settings for individuals, couples, parents, families, groups and larger networks. The chapters on systemic work with families presenting with ‘individual vulnerabilities’ and complex mental health issues and the role of common factors in therapy change will be especially useful. In summary this book will have wide appeal for psychologists, therapists, social workers and counsellors in English speaking countries who wish to learn more about applying a systemic approach in a range of mental health contexts.'

    Dr Glenn Larner, Senior Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist, Sydney, Australia, and Editor-in Chief of Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy