Welcome to

Gilead Downs Family Therapy Centre

2020  Intake – First Semester

Applications for the first semester of the 2020 Advanced Clinical Training Program in Family Therapy are now being taken. Applications are limited. More details available under the ‘Training’ page.

Mission Statement

…it is our wish that people who come into contact with this Centre might rediscover in their own lives a sense of hope, and in their relationships with others a sense of joy.

image of hands stacked on each other

The Gilead Downs Family Therapy Centre seeks to make a difference in the lives of individuals, couples and families by

  • Providing effective counselling and psychotherapy to individuals, couples  and families
  • Resourcing human service providers with training, ongoing professional development, resources, and consultation

The Gilead Downs Family Therapy Centre was established in 1981 and operated until recently as an adjunct to the Director’s broader involvement in teaching, research, community participation and counseling.  In September 1998 the Centre was established as a full-time private practice servicing the broader Gippsland region in rural Victoria, but drawing also from sectors in metropolitan Melbourne.  In 2010, the Centre relocated to Newcastle, NSW.

The Centre is an organisation that works with people in the midst of their struggles, standing alongside them but helping them move toward healing and wholeness.

The “Gilead” of Gilead Downs relates to the story of a people searching for answers in their pain and suffering.  In the ancient Hebrew town of Gilead, the members of the community, lamenting their struggle, cried out, “Is there no balm in Gilead?”  This lament, also experienced by the nineteenth and twentieth century African-American people, became a moving hymn called The Balm of Gilead.  This hymn speaks of a different people in a different time, but struggling just the same for answers to their situation and struggling also to experience a different way of being.  The hymn affirms that even in the midst of struggle, pain and suffering, there is indeed:

“…a balm in Gilead

To heal the sin-sick soul.

There is a balm in Gilead

To make the wounded whole.”

Counselors at the Centre bring to their work a deep sense of compassion, a breadth of understanding of the human experience, clinical competence and a commitment to issues of justice and fairness.  Counselors and administrative staff operate under the Code of Ethics of the Australian Association of Family Therapy (AAFT) and the National Association for Loss and Grief (NALAG).

The key operational functions of the Centre focus on counseling, training, supervision and consultation.

Counseling is offered in an environment that is empathic, understanding and deeply respectful of each client’s values and traditions.  Counselors work with individuals, couples and families firstly to identify what has brought them to counseling, and then to work towards long-term change.  Counselors at the Centre bring a breadth of experience to the counseling process, including experience related to family conflict, marital and couple issues, individual issues, violence and conflict, anger management, childhood and adolescence, grief and loss, substance abuse and sexual abuse, mental illness, autism.

Image of family taking a photo

Since 1993 the Centre has offered a two-year Advanced Clinical Training  Program in Family Therapy.  This program, accredited by AAFT, is a post-graduate level program which focusses on meeting the training requirements for candidates applying for clinical membership of AAFT.  The aim of the program is to produce skilled clinicians who have a sound understanding of the relationship between theory and practice.  The core content of the program centres on a systemic understanding of family dynamics, major schools of Family Therapy, clinical competence, the process of achieving change, contextual applications, ethical practice, research and supervised practice.

Supervision is offered to candidates working towards accreditation as clinical members of VAFT and for membership of NALAG.  Such supervision is offered on an individual and group basis and incorporates case presentation, verbatim reports and live supervision utilising  a one-way screen.  The primary model for group supervision is one which utilises a “reflecting team” to advance the supervisee’s clinical competence, self-understanding and theoretical integration.  Ongoing supervision is also provided to practicing professionals in the education sector, psychiatric services and community-based welfare agencies.

Staff at the Centre provide consultation to industry, welfare organisations, religious bodies, the education sector, and government organisations.  The consultation provided specifically relates to issues of training, conflict resolution, anger management, models of parenting and the range of clinical diagnoses presenting to the Centre for counselling.