Outsider Witness Groups as a Means of Professional Growth in Family Therapy Training: An Exploratory Qualitative Study

Yochay Nadan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This exploratory qualitative study examines the experiences and meanings associated with family therapy trainees’ participation in the narrative practice of Outsider Witness Groups (OWG). At the Barcai Institute in Tel Aviv, we incorporate OWGs into our live clinical supervision courses. In some sessions, we offer the families undergoing therapy the opportunity to listen to the reflections of the group of trainees regarding what they witnessed during the session. Twenty-nine family therapy trainees participated in the study in five focus group interviews. Analysis of the interviews yielded four core themes regarding the trainees’ experiences: (i) Exploring the stance of the therapist; (ii) The art of listening; (iii) Reflection on hierarchy and boundary setting; and (iv) Negotiating self-disclosure. The findings indicate that family therapy trainees stand to benefit significantly in their professional journey, development, and growth from integrating OWG practices into their training. OWG fosters the development of critical reflectivity in trainees, including the deconstruction of common and taken-for-granted assumptions. It also fosters practices related to family therapy, and perhaps also to therapy in general. The findings also suggest that taking part in OWGs during training may contribute to family therapy trainees’ development of critical reflectivity as a means of introducing a more critical and political approach to therapy and developing their own preferred stories as therapists.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)509-524
Number of pages16
JournalFamily Process
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Family Process Institute


  • Critical Reflectivity
  • Narrative Therapy
  • Outsider Witness Group
  • Qualitative Research
  • Training


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