Counselling Internship and Practicum Program

Clinical Internship / Practicum Program

Our Internship Program is designed for clinicians and other professionals who are interested in learning to “think systems” about human behavior and how to apply this thinking personally and professionally.

Our Internship Program provides a thorough introduction to Bowen theory because Bowen theory is the foundation for all the counselling, education and research conducted by Living Systems Counselling. The program combines the study of theory with the interns’ application of the theory in areas of their own life. This program is suitable for individuals interested in a Counselling internship, an undergraduate psychology internship or a Counselling practicum.

The program is approved by the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training of BC. Information about PTIB may be found at

Living Systems Counselling PTI Certification may be seen here: PTI Certification

The purpose of the program is:

  • To provide a thorough introduction to systems thinking using Bowen family systems theory
  • To apply Bowen theory to one’s own functioning in the family, in clinical work and/or the workplace
  • To relate Bowen theory to knowledge from the natural sciences and to theological understanding
  • To introduce interns to systems research

The format of the program is:

  • A two year, part-time, weekly program
  • Interns have the option of working with clients for the practical application of the theory
  • The schedule includes theory presentations and discussions, group supervision, individual supervision, regular clinical conferences & society conferences.

The benefits of the Clinical Internship Program are:

  • A thorough understanding of Bowen theory and how it can be applied personally and professionally
  • Personal instruction from experts in the field
  • Experience in using systems theory with clients  (if you choose to work with clients)
  • Accumulation of clinical hours and supervised time toward accreditation requirements
  • Accumulation of credit hour to fulfill requirements for your degree or CEUs
  • An understanding of how systems theory integrates with pastoral counselling

The distinct aspects of the Clinical Internship Program are:

  • It expects students to apply what they are learning in their own family
  • It integrates systems theory with pastoral counselling
  • It exposes students to current thinking in the natural sciences such as brain functioning, stress response systems, and primatology
  • It encourages students to develop a research attitude grounded in systems thinking
  • It enables students to conduct small clinical research projects to test hypotheses derived from family systems theory

How to apply

Thank you for your interest in the Living Systems Counselling Clinical Internship Program in Marriage and Family Therapy and Pastoral Counselling.

The deadline to apply is Sept. 30th (Sept. 15th is preferred).

For the Program brochure please click here: Training Program Brochure

For the Program Outline and Application Procedures please click here: Training Program Outline & Application Procedures

The Program Policies can be found here:Training Program Policies

Contact information:

Please address your inquiries and applications to:

Randy Frost
Director, Training and Research

Living Systems Counselling
209-1500 Marine Drive
North Vancouver, BC, V7P 1T7
Tel. 604.926.5496, Ext 304

The theory postulates that far more human activity is governed by man’s (sic) emotional system than he has been willing to admit, and there is far more similarity than dissimilarity between the “dance of life” in lower forms and the “dance of life” in human forms.”

Murray Bowen, M.D. Family Therapy in Clinical Practice”

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I benefit from the Living Systems Counselling Clinical Internship Program?

Trainees have the opportunity to learn one theory of human functioning well and how to apply the theory to clinical counselling and other professional fields. The depth and breadth of Bowen theory makes it applicable to a wide range of relational, emotional, social and even physical problems. The theory’s delineation of key variables that influence emotional functioning can also help to address problems in work systems. The emphasis on the trainee applying the theory in his or her own family contributes to the therapist’s own development as a person as well as his or her effectiveness in professional settings.

How can Bowen theory help me in my counselling practice?

Theory guides the clinician to assess the way in which the functioning of the entire family unit is influencing presenting problems. Accurate understanding of the emotional forces at work in creating a problem provides a direction for therapy designed to modify the problem. Because the family functions as an emotional system, a therapist guided by theory can work with any member of the family to address his or her contributions to the problem, even if the symptom is present in another member of the family who refuses counselling. The flexibility of a systems approach provides a variety of ways to approach presenting problems in a clinical setting.

How can a deeper understanding of Bowen theory help me in my professional career?

The Clinical Internship Program is designed to help people develop an accurate understanding of theory and to provide an opportunity to begin what can become a long-term effort to work on how each functions in their families of origin. If people are able over time to define more of a self in their nuclear and extended families, the amount of chronic anxiety they carry can gradually decline. The effort to understand and modify the part one plays in family problems can contribute to becoming a more responsible person. A more responsible person not only understands his or her contributions to problems but is able to define what he or she will and won’t do based on principles that they have carefully thought through for themselves. The more a professional person can gradually modify their emotional reactivity with a more accurate appraisal of what he or she can responsibly do with self in challenging circumstances, the more useful and effective that professional can become.

Why does the Clinical Internship Program study Bowen theory exclusively?

Living Systems Counselling has adopted Bowen theory as its primary theoretical approach to counselling, education, training and research. In this way, each area of the organization’s mission can complement and inform the others. For trainees to represent the approach taken by Living Systems Counselling with clients, they must have an adequate grasp of Bowen theory and the ability to apply it. We believe it is more important to know one theory well than to have a superficial knowledge of many theories. Bowen theory is an open theory that is subject to modification by new knowledge from the natural sciences. Trainees, accordingly, learn some of the recent developments in such areas as brain research, the stress response and primatology, each of which has relevance for key concepts of the theory.

Why should I choose Living Systems Counselling to learn about Bowen theory?

The Clinical Internship Program has been offered at Living Systems Counselling since 1984. From its inception under Dr. Ronald Richardson, the program has focused on marriage and family therapy informed by Bowen theory. The current faculty and supervisors of the Clinical Internship Program have trained at the Bowen Center and the program director trained with Dr. Bowen. Together, Living Systems Counselling and its predecessor – the North Shore Counselling Centre – have more than two decades of experience with the theory and its applications.

Can I use clinical hours and supervision time toward my accreditation?

Yes, depending on the accrediting body. The director of training and supervisors in the program are registered clinical counsellors with the B.C. Association of Clinical Counsellors and are certified as fellows with the American Association of Pastoral Counsellors. People interested in accreditation should check with their accrediting organizations for current policy on required clinical hours and supervision.

Can I use the Clinical Internship Program toward academic requirements for completing a master’s degree?

Yes, depending on the policy of the school. A number of students pursuing master’s degrees from various universities in the Lower Mainland and Washington State have been given credit for practicum requirements toward their degree. People interested in this possibility should check with their school.

How much clinical experience will I gain?

Interns in their first year begin seeing clients of Living Systems Counselling in January and typically develop a caseload of three to five appointments per week. Second-year interns may develop a caseload of six to ten appointments per week. The opportunity to counsel clients depends on the availability of clients and the readiness of the intern to see clients as determined by the director of training.

What type of relationship does Living Systems Counselling have with The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in Washington, D.C.?

The Bowen Center website lists Living Systems Counselling as one of eight locations with programs that are “directed by people who trained extensively at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family and who are in close contact with the most recent developments in Bowen theory and the science that informs theory.” Living Systems Counselling sponsors two conferences every year at which faculty from the Bowen Center present. The program director and supervisors regularly attend conferences and meetings sponsored by the Bowen Center in Washington, D.C. The director of training regularly presents at meetings sponsored by the Bowen Center and at conferences throughout North America that are sponsored by other groups interested in Bowen theory.

As a trainee, how would I benefit from that relationship?

Trainees will have the opportunity to learn from people who have trained extensively at the Bowen Center and who are in close contact with the most recent developments in the theory and the science that informs it. Trainees also have the opportunity to learn directly from members of the faculty at the Bowen Center at conferences sponsored by Living Systems Counselling . And the library of Living Systems Counselling contains videotapes and DVDs of presentations and conferences by Dr. Bowen and other experts in Bowen theory and therapy.

Is the Clinical Internship Program registered?

Yes. The Clinical Internship Program is registered with the Private Career Training Institutions Agency of British Columbia.

Who are the instructors of the Clinical Internship Program?

The primary instructor of the Clinical Internship Program is the director of training, Randy Frost, RCC, M.Div. Lois Walker, M.Div, RCC, and Randy Frost provide supervision. Both have decades of clinical experience and both have trained at the Postgraduate Program in Family Systems Theory and Family Psychotherapy established by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Georgetown Family Center in Washington, DC.

How many interns are enrolled every year?

On average, the first year of the Clinical Internship Program has four to six participants and the advanced group has between three and five participants.

What types of people and professions have completed the Clinical Internship Program?

The Clinical Internship Program has included people working on their master’s degree and people already practicing in their fields. Professions represented in the Clinical Internship Program have included clinical counsellors, marriage and family therapists, pastoral counsellors, a psychiatrist, social workers, pastors, educators, nurses, business executives, a lawyer and a human resource practitioner.

Living Systems Counselling is a registered society, charity # 107784308RR001. We thank the following: BC Gaming Commission, District of North Vancouver, City of North Vancouver, Individual donors and our members

north shore cities logos

209-1500 Marine Drive, North Vancouver, BC, V7P 1T7

Telephone: 604.926.5496..Email: