Psychology 772

PSYC 772: Couples and Family Systems Therapy

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in psychology and PSYC 641 or equivalent, or admission into the Psy.D. program, or permission of instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

An analysis of couples and families as social systems and the identification of issues affecting these systems are included. A number of theoretical approaches and counseling techniques for therapy with couples and families are presented and evaluated.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course may include the following topics:

1.      Historical view of couples and families in U.S. culture

2.      Systems approach to couples’ and family therapy

3.      Ethical issues in couples’ counseling and family therapy

4.      Multicultural issues in couples’ counseling and family therapy, including social justice considerations

5.      Special populations in couples’ counseling and family therapy (e.g. Stepfamilies, single parent families, same-sex couples)

6.      Training and use of assessment in couples’ and family therapy

7.      Issues specific to rural populations in couples’ and family therapy

8.      Crisis management in couples’ and family therapy

9.      Development and implementation of treatment plans for specific issues in couples’ (e.g. substance abuse, PTSD, depression, divorce and remarriage)

10.  Advanced techniques in couples and family therapy (e.g. person-centered, cognitive-based, action-oriented)


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

This course will provide students with a deeper understanding and appreciation for various dyads and family systems factors that shape and inform the relationship aspect of human experience, particularly those related to the historical perspective, ethical and multicultural perspectives, application to special populations, techniques and theory of couples and family counseling. The course will include a significant amount of reading, writing, and group discussion, along with experiential activities, a final exam, and possible group or individual projects. It will primarily be conducted as a seminar with an emphasis on student participation.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

At the end of this course the student should:

1.      Be able to describe the sociopolitical trends  within U.S. society that have had an impact on the nature and composition of couples and families over time;

2.      Be able to recognize and describe several systemic approaches to couples and family counseling;

3.      Be able to articulate ethical issues and resolve ethical dilemmas related to couples and family therapy;

4.      Be able to describe and implement culturally appropriate interventions with culturally and systemically diverse couples and families;

5.      Be able to describe and demonstrate proficiency in couple and family assessments;

6.      Be able to describe issues specific to couples and families living in rural settings;

7.      Be able to articulate appropriate methods of crisis intervention for couplease and families;

8.      Be able to develop appropriate issue-specific treatment plans for couples and families, taking into account evidence-based practice considerations;

9.      Be able to demonstrate proficiency in selected advanced techniques in couples and family therapy;

10.  Be able to integrate cultural and social justice issues in considerations of all the preceding goals.


Assessment Measures

Students will be assessed using several measures, which may include grades on written assignments, participation in group discussion and experiential activites, and performance on the final exam and projects(s).


Other Course Information



Review and Approval

December 2007

March 1999