Foundations Series 2021-2022

This series is designed for family-based therapists in their first 12 to 18 months of training in ESFT. There are three components: 1) assigned readings from the treatment manual Setting the Stage for Change, 2) selected introductory courses from our online learning center, and 3) eight live foundations clinicals led by our faculty, either on-site or virtually. Each live foundations clinical will have assigned readings and online webinars related to the specific theme of that day’s presentation. To get the most out of the live trainings, trainees are encouraged to prepare for the live foundations clinicals by completing assignments prior to each training. Foundations will integrate this material into their trainings. They will help trainees digest concepts they are learning in the readings and in the online courses and apply them to actual clinical cases.  

The Foundations series introduces and familiarizes trainees with 1) the basic conceptual foundations of ESFT, 2) common clinical presentations of the trauma-impacted children and families served by PA FBMHS, 3) the six stages of ESFT implementation and the treatment tasks associated with each, and 4) the six mechanisms of change that drive ESFT intervention. The primary focus of the foundations live clinical trainings is to facilitate the development of clinical skills in 1) developing the therapeutic relationship and constructing a therapeutic system, 2) recognizing family interactional patterns and family structure, and 3) using the ecomap, timeline, and genogram therapeutically. 

Each Foundations workshop is structured similarly. They all begin with a brief didactic where one ESFT concept or skill is introduced, it is shown how it is related to the readings and the online courses, and a video is shown that demonstrates the concept or skill. There are two clinical case presentations, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Although guidance is provided on how the teams might best conceptualize and treat the case, the primary focus of case discussions is on how the “theme of the day” is represented. The case material is then used to create multiple role-plays so that all participants have an opportunity to practice skills. Everyone role plays.

When therapists complete all the foundations readings, online courses, and the eight live workshops in this series, they will be able to:

  1. Describe the ESFT Logic Model, including the six treatment stages and associated treatment tasks
  2. Identify the six mechanisms of change in ESFT
  3. Discuss cases in a manner consistent with the strength-based attitudes and values embodied in ESFT and FBMHS
  4. Discriminate between process and content in family interactions
  5. Recognize family structure and negative interactional patterns in families 
  6. Discuss (and write-up) cases using an EcoSystemic conceptual framework
  7. Create a workable therapeutic system which includes therapeutic alliances with all family members. 
  8. Be able to complete and interpret ecomaps, timelines, and genograms
  9. Recognize and reflect upon how personal actions and attitudes as therapists impact family members and vice-versa

The Mini-Capstone Process and Level 1 ESFT Certification

Beginning with the 2021-2022 training year, all foundations trainees will complete a comprehensive examination in ESFT and FBMHS, once at the beginning of training and then again when completing all foundations requirements, which includes a faculty approved mini capstone. The process for this competency procedure can be found in the supervisors manual. 

The Foundations series workshops are presented in their entirety at two of our training sites, with each series led and taught by faculty specific to that site. All workshops start at 8:30 am and end at 3:30 pm, with a one-hour break for lunch.

MCIU, Norristown, PA
Frani Pollack, MSW, Ph.D.
Dan Gilmore, MA, LPC  

Philhaven, Mt Gretna, PA
Shannon Stalnaker, MS
Marlene N. Reiff, LCSW/LMFT

Foundations Series