Meet Dr Mark Scholes
Are you curious about the teaching team here at QIFT? Do you want to explore if we will be a good fit for your learning style? Then welcome to Part Four of four articles to introduce Leonie, Kate, Laura and Mark. It is important to us that we embrace the relational principles that we teach. So get to know Mark as he tells his story about the journey into systemic thinking and practice, and his passion for teaching and mentoring.
With the number of enrolments into program growing we were on the hunt for an experienced Family Therapist, and with Mark recently taking the leap into full-time private practice, it was the perfect opportunity to steal some of his calendar for QIFT teaching days. It was lucky he could even fit us in! With an abundance of experience working with families, organisations, and providing group supervision, we feel excited to have Mark on the team.
"What sparked your interest in systemic practice?"
Well, it all started when I was faced with complex clinical situations at Evolve Therapeutic Services where my individual models were not guiding me well enough. I didn't know how to take into account the multiple needs of referrers, stakeholders and family members involved. Systemic practice gave me a group of interconnected frameworks that helped me better understand the terrain and gave me more options for influencing people in therapeutic ways.
"What frameworks are you drawn too and why?"
I am certainly eclectic and pragmatic, drawing from modern (Structural, Bowen, Strategic, Milan) and postmodern approaches (Solution-Focused and Narrative), and using my clients' feedback to guide me as to what approach they need from me. Having said that, my natural style leans more towards the postmodern approaches as I value questions that influence and collaboration in therapy.
"How has systemic thinking changed your practice?"
Systemic thinking has had a major impact on my practice and has become my default way of working. I am more flexible in who I see in therapy, from whole families, to couples, to individuals. I always consider the context of the family, communication patterns, the family's history, and the wider community network when working with people. Systemic thinking has taught me not only how to connect with my clients better by appreciating their relationships and context, but it has also provided me with creative and flexible ways of influencing people therapeutically.
"Why have you chosen to go into a teaching and mentoring role in this field?"
Teaching and mentoring in systemic practice is exciting as it adds another layer of appreciating systemic practice, moving between theory and practice. I have been fortunate enough to have amazing mentors guide me into new systemic insights and depth of practice. I remember feeling so excited and energised when my mentors brought systemic concepts alive in my practice. I remember reading an article that highlighted research showing that therapists can improve their sense of self-care and vitality when they hone their talent in their therapeutic skills, which was certainly the case for me. I enjoy supporting my colleagues to develop their systemic practice as a way of giving back to our clinical community, and watching therapists become re-energised and excited about their clinical work.
"If you could give one piece of advice to our starting students what would it be?"
My first memories of learning about systemic practice was through courses and supervision, where I felt a new-found excitement for clinical work through understanding the complexities of family life, and how all members are interconnected with each other, and how family context and history evolves over time. It took some time for me to transition from understanding family life to learning how to influence family life. So my advice to students is... take your time to learn and watch the systemic concepts come alive in clinical work, and over time you will discover more points of influence/intervention.
"What is one food you cannot stand?"
Gluten-free pasta :)