Welcome to IFT-Malta

Institute of Family Therapy & Systemic Practice - Malta

Who are we?

The Institute of Family Therapy Malta was established in 2010 to deliver state-of-the-art systemic training and therapeutic services. As social constructionists we believe that it is through our social and relational processes that we construct the world, and that human challenges are best addressed relationally and within their relevant contexts. We work hard to make training, therapy, supervision and consultation accessible to individuals, couples, families, organisations and communities in Malta and Gozo.

Having initiated the first accredited training in Malta, the Institute of Family Therapy Malta established itself as a leader in family therapy training and services delivery. It built an excellent reputation and is a member of the Training Institutes Chamber of the European Family Therapy Association and also an Institutional Member in Good Standing of the International Family Therapy Association. IFT- Malta is also committed to deliver relationship education programmes for partners, spouses, and parents, children, schools and organizations to promote well-being in society, based on positive family and work environments, and a healthy balance between the two.

Mission Statement

  • To provide multi-level training in the systemic-relational psychotherapies and related fields.
  • To assist organizations and communities in achieving healthier psycho-relational environments through systemic consultation.
  • To promote the psychological well-being of individuals, couples, families, organizations and communities, through the use of multimodal psychotherapeutic approaches, with a particular focus on systemic psychotherapy.
  • To conduct and promote research in couple and family relationships matters.
  • To promote social awareness on psychological and relational well-being through the use of various social media presences.
  • To promote and spread information about family and systemic  psychotherapy approaches throughout the Maltese Islands to individuals, institutions and organisations concerned with the health and development of families and human systems through the use of various media including TV, Radio, Newspapers, magazines, and internet.
  • To create links with other local and foreign organisations having common or comparable aims of promoting systemic work in Malta and abroad.

There are a lot of reasons why gaining accreditation can be beneficial both for students and educational providers:

  • it is a mark of quality that prospective students and employers understand and value;
  • it entitles graduates for a Warrant issued by the Psychotherapy Profession Board.
  • it keeps open the widest range of training, development and employment opportunities for graduates.
  • it is a high-quality benchmarking process that is defined and delivered in partnership with psychotherapists.
  • it is aimed at getting the best out of programmes, through promoting psychotherapy as a science, ensuring quality and providing solution-focused support;
  • it provides a direct opportunity for education providers and students to influence the Society, and its policies for the future.

Our advice to students is always to choose MFHEA accredited courses to maximise your future options.

Taking an MFHEA accredited undergraduate course confers eligibility for future training across the European Union.

The vast majority of postgraduate programmes accredited by MFHEA or approved by Psychotherapy Profession Board for registration as a practitioner psychotherapist also require MQRIC approved degrees for entry.

Accreditation of Courses

Accreditation is a standard way of guaranteeing Quality Assurance and how we achieve standards that support students’ achievement of the learning outcomes of the selected courses, and are supported by an appropriate resource base. Quality Assurance is how the local accrediting body, MFHEA (Malta Further & Higher Education Authority) engages in dialogue with us at the Institute of Family Therapy Malta through detailed and meticulous external reviews and audits involving the running of the institute and of the courses we run. IFT-Malta prepares for this through its Quality Assurance Manual.

Our Policies

We have a highly professional team:

Dr. Charlie Azzopardi


Dr. Charlie Azzopardi is a Systemic Practitioner with more than 35 years of experience working in the field of mental health. While he spent a substantial number of years working with addictions he was also involved in individual, couple, and family psychotherapy, parenting training, childhood and adolescent problems, eating disorders, as well as consulting family-run businesses. Dr. Azzopardi has lectured locally and abroad and is now fully engaged running IFT-Malta, and private practice. His interest remains that of helping individuals, couples, families, students of psychotherapy and organisations find effective solutions to the various difficulties that inevitably befall them.

Karen Bishop

Director, Coordinator & Tutor

Karen Bishop is a Systemic Family Therapist. She has worked in various local services dealing with diverse family issues, as well as more specialised services dealing with issues relating to addictions as well as domestic abuse. Ms. Bishop has obtained her Master’s Degree in Family Therapy at the Tavistock Clinic in London. She has been working within a multi-disciplinary team, with children in out-of-home care and their families for the past five years.  Currently she is also involved with teaching Family Therapy as well as running her own private practice.

Marika Azzopardi

Director & Administrative Secretary

Marika Azzopardi has been involved with the Institute since its inception and has seen it grow from strength to strength over the years. Her wide and varied expertise in organisational administration, social media, writing, journalism and the arts has contributed hugely to the status of IFT-Malta’s standing in the community. She is a History of Art graduate and published extensively on the arts, personality interviews, features and researched articles in various print media, blogs and websites, junior and adult fiction, and varied chapters within specialised literary arts publications.


Tutors and visiting trainers

Our team

Visiting trainers:

Karl Wright, Helen Attard, Audrey Agius, Matthew Bartolo, Charlene Borg, Claire Borg, Fr. Eric Cachia , Stephanie Caruana, Karl Wright, Jeanella Ebejer, Delicia Farrugia, Marija Grech Debono, Maria Jones, Maria Mifsud ,Yanica Richards Chircop ,Angelle Vella, Abigail Church ,Marilyn Muscat , Joshua Zammit, Carmen Delicata.

Foreign Visiting Trainers: 
Dr. Padraic Gibson  is a consultant psychotherapist and a senior research associate and lecturer at Dublin City University, he is also a senior research associate at the post graduate school of psychotherapy, Centro Di Terapia Strategica, Arezzo, Italy. He has worked as clinical director of psychotherapy in the Irish health service for 20 years and is co-founder of The OCD Clinic® International. Padraic is a published author of numerous works and has conducted a number of recognised clinical outcome research programs, on eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders and depression his work has been published internationally with colleagues working in numerous European Universities. Padraic is a registered systemic psychotherapist and clinical supervisor. Publications include ‘Winning Without Fighting’ (2016), (Portelli, Papantuno, Co-Authors), ’Advances in Effective Brief Psychotherapy Strategies, Relationships and Communication (2018), The Coaching Clinic-The Art and Science of Change, in Mind Behaviour and Relationships (2019), ‘Escaping the Anxiety Trap-Brief effective Solutions for Anxiety Disorders (2019).
Dr. Matteo Papantuono

Dr. Claudette Portelli 

Brian O’Sullivan

Per Jensen

Paolo Bertrando

Umberta Telfener

Elena Ceuca

Vivi Ayal

External Examiners:
Billy Hardy – Senior Lecturer in Psychotherapy, Consultant Systemic Psychotherapist and Co-Director at the Centre for Systemic Studies in South Wales.


The First Academic Post Graduate Award in Parental Alienation Studies
We are delighted to announce the first Post Graduate Certificate in Parental Alienation Studies designed and developed in collaboration between Brian O Sullivan (MSc) in Ireland & Dr. Charlie Azzopardi, the Institute of Family Therapy Malta has started in October 2022.

This program is designed specifically for professionals and other key stakeholders across the social, legal, mental health, medical, nursing, social care, allied health, youth work, counselling, psychology, clergy, education and psychotherapy fields who find themselves working with families and young people experiencing the trauma of Parental Alienation.

This Post Graduated Certificate in Parental Alienation Studies is unprecedented in Europe and graduates of this program will be enabled and acquainted with detailed contemporary literature and evidence based best practices in assessment, case formalisation, legal report writing and clinical interventions with families optimising the outcomes for children and young people across their lifespan.

The course is structured around a 30 ECTS Post Graduate Certificate qualification and consists of 5 modules over one academic year. The modules include historical and contemporary theory of Parental Alienation, evidence based best practice, assessment, and intervention processes for mild, moderate, and severe parental alienation and report writing. Eventually, as the course is being developed into an eventual M.Sc. it will contain other significant modules prevention strategies, early detection and intervention, research modules and more.

This course is accredited by the Malta Further & Higher Education Authority.

Course Coordinators: Brian O’Sullivan & Charlie Azzopardi

To Register Your Interest In Learning More About Post Graduate Award in Parental Alienation Studies Please Click Here.