June 1, 2024, is the deadline to apply for CFR’s Fall 2024 Postgraduate Certificate Program cohort in Marriage & Family Therapy, Sex Therapy, and Clergy track. Apply here.

Congregational and Family Systems Academy Certificate Program

Congregational and Family Systems Academy Certificate Program

This program enriches the skills of pastors, priests, rabbis, cantors, imams, and other clergy who provide spiritual guidance and support within congregations and other faith-based communities.

Accepting Applications for 2024-2025

CFR is accepting applications on a rolling admissions basis.

Clergy participants in this program are lifelong learners, community leaders, and healers.

This program is for clergy interested in learning Family Systems Theory with direct application to their functioning in ministry. This is a 2-year advanced training program. The curriculum of the Academy includes four required courses that teach the foundations of Systems Theory, with a weekly seminar in the first year that meets monthly in the second year.

Academic Training

In the first year, classes meet on Monday mornings with four 10-week required Systems Theory courses from September through July, with 2 hours of the year-long Clergy Seminar in the afternoon. The Seminar format provides a process for bringing theory, theology, and practice into sharper alignment, which requires an ongoing commitment.

The Seminar offers clergy an opportunity to share experiences and reflect on their own functioning within their congregation’s emotional system. Clergy will discuss the integration of the models taught in their morning classes with their pastoral and congregational ministry, along with discussing the functioning of the clergyperson as a leader.

The following are the topics the clergy cohort will engage with their peers and CFR’s distinguished faculty on:

  • Work on self-regulation
  • Understand specific patterns of family and relationship interactions as described by Family Systems Theory
  • Observe relationship systems
  • Learn to apply Systems Theory to one’s self and to one’s family of origin
  • Acquire a conceptual systemic framework for understanding human functioning
  • Understand the application and integration of theology with Systems Theory
  • Acquire confidence in managing self amid reactivity and sabotage, stuck or stirred up congregations, triangles, conflicted relationships, static organizations, shrinking attendance and budgets, seduction for the “quick fix,” and family disruptions

Program Details

Level: Postgraduate

Admission Requirements: MS, MDIV, D.Min, or equivalent credential

Courses Required: Four ten-week courses

Instructional Delivery: Synchronous online

Supervision: Group

Calendar Type: Quarter

Enrollment: Part-time

Time Frame: Completion in two years

Time Commitment: One day per week for the first year and one morning every three weeks for the second year

The Congregational and Family Systems Academy Certificate Program fosters leadership principles that promote a broader repertoire for responding to the challenges in ministry and organizational settings.

Explore the program:


Program Tuition & Tuition Grant

The Clergy Seminar

The seminar will provide a peer-learning and peer-mentoring experience where participants share life and ministry experiences. The seminar will examine the various systemic models, comparing and contrasting them with the Bowen Theory, along with Edwin Freidman’s application of Bowen Theory to the leadership and the person of the clergy.

Along with a didactic review of the models, participants will also regularly present their family-of-origin work along with ministry case consultations. The seminar’s theory, coaching, and peer-coaching experience fosters re-examination of roles, functioning, and relationships through differentiation.

Graduates of the Congregational and Family Systems Program have the option to continue in their second year with the monthly Monday morning seminar to engage in ongoing self-reflection and exploration with their peers of how systemic principles impact themselves and their congregation.

Dolores Littleton, DMin, LMFT

Director, Postgraduate Certificate Program, Clergy Track

Request more information

For more information, contact the Director of the Postgraduate Certificate Program, Clergy Track Rev. Dr. Dolores Littleton at dlittleton@councilforrelationships.org.