Family Systems Theory – mfcc556 (3 credits)

This course provides an overview of the development of family systems theory as a discipline and the therapeutic approaches that have emerged. Fundamental assumptions and concepts of general systems theory are introduced and contrasted with individual theories of psychology. The historic development of family systems thinking is explored. Evolving therapeutic models are introduced and contrasted with family systems concepts. In this course, students will explore the major systems theories’ approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and change and explore ethnic differences in family patterns and attitudes toward therapy. Critiques of systems theory and research issues are discussed.

This graduate-level course is 6 weeks. This course is available as part of a degree or certificate program. To enroll, speak with an Enrollment Representative.

Trends and Issues of Family Systems Therapy

  • Describe issues about financial and social stress as it relates to family therapy.
  • Explain the current trend toward the integration of various models of family therapy.

Definition of Family, Overview of Family Systems Approach, and Key Contributors

  • Describe the contributions of major theorists to family systems theory.
  • Discuss the various definitions of family, including cohabitation, marriage, divorce, and blended and complex families.
  • Contrast the assumptions of individual psychology and family systems theory.

Psychoanalytic, Intergenerational, and Experiential Family Therapies

  • Identify the early psychoanalytic family therapies.
  • Examine the object relations approaches to family systems therapy.
  • Describe the unique aspects of the intergenerational approach to family therapy.

Strategic and Structural Family Therapy

  • Examine the structural family therapy approach to therapeutic intervention.
  • Explain attachment theory’s relevance to family therapy and the major contributors to attachment theory.
  • Differentiate between the various approaches to experiential family therapy.
  • Describe the strategic family therapy approach to therapeutic intervention.

Behavioral and Cognitive-Behavioral Approaches to Family Therapy

  • Explain behavioral approaches to family therapy.
  • Describe cognitive-behavioral approaches to family therapy.
  • Examine the history and approaches of concurrent, conjoint, and sex therapies.

Postmodern Approaches, Including Feminism and Integrative Models to Family Therapy, and Assessment

  • Conceptualize feminist theory and the feminist critique of family therapy.
  • Discuss the variety of narrative approaches to family therapy.
  • Examine the solution-focused approach to family therapy.

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