Theories of Family Systems – COUC 601

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 07/27/2021

Course Description

This course considers the dynamics of marriage and family relationships from a systems perspective. The emphasis is on understanding family and other systems theories, the structure and function of marriage, various aspects of the marital relationship and family systems, and models of family and systemic interventions. Considerations from an historical perspective are presented along with current developments within marriage and family systemic models. Students will engage in critical thinking regarding the application and integration of spirituality within marriage and family counseling.

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


This course is designed to cover the numerous and varied marriage and family theories as well as the history of marriage and family therapy. The information in this course is designed to equip counselor trainees for practice and to successfully complete the licensure exam.

Theories of Family Systems is a required course in the licensure programs and is intended to introduce the student to the concept and philosophy of marriage and family therapy. The student will be required to understand the systems philosophy and six major theoretical frameworks within the marriage and family therapy field. The student will understand such core content areas as: marriage and family history, key theoretical figures, ethics and legal matters, counseling issues, some techniques, current trends, and future themes. This is the first marriage and family course; thus, it is designed to teach foundational materials necessary to pass state licensure examinations. For a more in-depth and deeper level of understanding, demonstration, and skill development, the 602 course may be taken when offered.

Method of Instruction: This 8-week course is delivered in an online format, with Canvas® as the primary instructional delivery method. Students complete one module per week over the duration of the course.

Mission and Vision of the Center for Counseling & Family Studies


Liberty University seeks to change the world by graduating students of competence, character, and wisdom, who model a grace-filled community and engage the larger culture. As a community of scholars and professionals who embrace a broad Christian worldview we in the Center for Counseling and Family Studies are committed to developing therapists who are competent clinicians and professionals, able to evaluate and apply personal and professional values to the practice of psychotherapy, and respectful of individuals and families and the cultural contexts that shape them.




Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist Assignment

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

Discussions (4)

The student will complete 4 Discussions throughout this course. The student is required to create an initial thread in response to the provided prompt for each discussion. The initial thread must be at least 500 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the initial thread, the student is required to reply to 1 classmate’s thread. The reply must be at least 400 words. The initial thread and reply must cite at least 1 source. These discussion activities are designed to allow the student to discuss, articulate, analyze, and integrate the various aspects of marriage and family counseling as well as learn how faith can be integrated within counseling (CACREP Standard: F.2.b., F.2.c., F.2.d., F.2.h., F.3.a., F.5.b.; CLOs: 1-9, 11).

Family Genogram Project Assignment

The student will use the GenoPro software and the McGoldrick et al. (2017) textbook to prepare a family genogram of at least 3 generations of his/her family system. The student will also write a 5-page paper in current APA format analyzing his/her genogram (CACREP Standard: F.2.d., F.2.h., F.3.a., F.5.b.; CLO: 10). 

SYMBIS Assessment Facilitator Certification Assignment

The student will complete the SYMBIS Assessment Facilitator Certification and submit proof of completion. This certification will assist the student in assessing and identifying crucial elements in counseling pre-marital and marital couples, as well as, couples in their second marriage (CACREP Standard: F.2.d., F.3.a., F.5.b.; CLOs: 2-9, 11).  

Family Counseling Approach Research Paper Assignment

The student will write a research paper/formal literature review on 1 of the specific approaches to family counseling. The paper must be in current APA format and use a minimum of 12 scholarly references. The research section (Part I) of the paper must be at least 6 pages. In the personal integration section (Part II), the student will integrate his/her own faith and family counseling approach, and this section must be at least 2 pages. In the SYMBIS section (Part III), the student will integrate the family counseling approach with their personalized 15-page report about themselves within the context of a potential/current relationship through the “phantom partner” (computer generated) option; this section must be at least 2 pages (CACREP Standard: F.2.d., F.2.h., F.3.a., F.5.b.; CLOs: 1-11).  

Quizzes (4)

Each quiz will cover the Reading & Study material for the assigned modules/weeks. These quizzes will require the student to synthesize, compare and contrast, and demonstrate graduate-level integration of the materials covered in the course. Each quiz will be open-book/open-notes, consist of 45 or 50 multiple-choice questions, and have a 1-hour and 30-minute time limit (CACREP Standard: F.2.b., F.2.c., F.2.d., F.2.h., F.3.a., F.5.b.; CLOs: 1-7, 9-11).