Advanced Couple & Marital Counseling – CEFS 603

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 01/31/2022

Course Description

This course introduces students to evidence-based protocols for couple and marital counseling. Advanced skill work in formalized assessment and couples counseling techniques highlight the elements of this course.  Students will develop effective couple and marital case conceptualizations and apply effective treatment interventions to various problems couples may experience. This course also incorporates a focus on pre-marital assessment and counseling. 

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


Both Christian and secular experts agree that marriages are failing at a 45–50% or higher rate in the United States of America. This course provides the student with the requisite skills and knowledge to assist couples through crises and to develop healthy, vibrant marriages.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Describe and discuss knowledge of family development and transitions to identify normative characteristics and issues from the premarital stage of the family life cycle to the final stage in the family life cycle and integrate that knowledge with a biblical worldview.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to assess, conceptualize, and apply therapeutic strategies to marital counseling that are grounded in empirically valid systemic theories.
  3. Identify, evaluate, and analyze family issues that impede optimal functioning for a couple system preparing for marriage with considerations of biblical principles.
  4. Identify and describe socio-cultural (e.g., gender, religion, sexuality) factors and historical contexts as they relate to premarital and couple functioning.
  5. Attribute and demonstrate the ability to apply appropriate ethical and legal standards related to premarital and marriage counseling as established in the ethical codes.
  6. Identify the scriptural foundation for God’s plan for marriage and determine the implications of the fallen state of human nature in marriage.

Course Assignment

Course Requirements Checklist Assignment

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Textbook Reading Notes Assignments (6)

At least a single page of notes will be required for each chapter of reading assigned from the Gurman text. These notes should consist of key ideas and insights taken from the reading that week. Notes should show understanding and reflection of material. Outlines of topics will not be granted full credit. This is not a summary of the chapter but rather a selection of key points from the text that the student found important. Hand written notes are allowed if they are legible and a photo of them can be taken and submitted like a paper. (MLO - A & E)

Discussions (5)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each discussion. Each thread must be at least 250 words and must demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to respond to the threads as outlined in the course. Where appropriate, each reply must be at least 150 words. (MLO - A,D & F)

Quizzes (4)

Module 2: Week 2 – Module 5: Week 5 consist of participating in select trainings from the Gottman Institute. Each of those weeks include a quiz that relates to the trainings done that week. Quizzes are focused on the current week’s training and are not cumulative in nature. The quizzes consist of up to 10 questions each, are timed, and are open book (training manual). The Gottman Institute requires a final test at the end of their video training in order to receive the certificate. That test is done on their web site and is not in Canvas. (MLO - C)

Quiz: Gottman Training Certification

The student will be required to successfully complete the level 1 training and submit his/her certificate as proof of completion. The certificate and the required final test are provided by the Gottman Institute from their web site.

Recorded Couple Interview Assignment

In the first two weeks of class, the student will interview a couple who has been married for 20 years or more. This interview will be recorded and used throughout the course to interact with the training material as well as be used for the Case Study Paper Assignment. The interview must include the prepared questions in the assignment instructions but can include others if the student wishes. It does not matter what order the questions are used in the interview. The couple must sign a consent form for the recording. The recording will not be loaded up into the course but deleted by the student during the final week of the class to protect confidentiality. The consent form will be submitted as an assignment in the course. It is recommended that the interview does not go over 90 minutes as the student will need to review the material several times throughout the course and too much length could make this task unmanageable. This interview will be used in discussion and application of the training material each week. The student must not use the couple’s real names or any identifying information in any discussion in the course.

Case Study Paper Assignment

The student will complete a treatment plan based upon his/her recorded couple interview from Module 1: Week 1 and Module 2: Week 2. The recording will be analyzed and then evaluated from one of the theoretical frameworks emphasized in this course (Gottman, EFT, or Solution-Focused). The student will use the theory as a guide for the development of a Treatment Plan. If need be, the student will impose a theoretical crisis onto the couple for the purpose of applying the theory to treatment. This could be a death in the family, an affair, or a major life stressor such as a job loss or foreclosure. The paper will be a minimum of 8 pages and a maximum of 14 pages of content.  The paper will consist of the selected Theory overview, Case Conceptualization, to include diagnostic elements as well as clinical elements, a treatment plan based upon the selected theoretical model and a conclusion. The paper should be written entirely in third person. (MLO - A, B & E)