Marriage and Family Systems: Foundations, Models and Techniques – DBMF 610

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 07/28/2020

Course Description

This course prepares students with techniques and approaches useful to marriage and family counseling, including theoretical models of family systems and methods that can be used when problems develop. Current trends, societal issues, ethical concerns, and multicultural factors are presented and considered.


PACO 500 and 501


It is important to present effective marriage and family models and techniques to help marriages and families lay a solid biblical foundation and navigate difficult issues within a culture that often opposes these family values.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify current trends, issues, and threats to the family system in the 21st century.
  2. Define both “marriage” and “family” from a Judeo-Christian perspective rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures.
  3. Debate and defend the Judeo-Christian definition of marriage and family against the current cultural attempts to redefine it.
  4. Describe how marriage between a husband and wife is biblically and scientifically the healthiest environment to raise children who thrive.
  5. Create and analyze a genogram of his/her family history.
  6. Identify and support families facing a wide range of special family issues including, but not limited to, infertility/miscarriage, single parenting, family crises, postpartum depression, homosexuality, stepfamilies, technology, and stress.
  7. Identify and describe characteristics of family systems regarding developmental stages including: infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, pre-adolescence, and adolescence.
  8. Describe techniques for raising spiritually healthy and vibrant children.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations/notes

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forums (4)

Discussion board forums are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. The student must answer questions for each forum with a minimum of 400 words, based on that particular module/week’s readings (Dr. Dobson’s works and/or the core text), as well as video/audio content. The student will also be required to post at least 2 replies of 200 words each to other students’ threads.

Diverse Family Systems Paper

The student, using outside research, will study dominant family systems in 2 distinctly different ethnic cultures and compare and contrast them with one another. The student will also compare and contrast them with the scriptural definition of family based on the course text, God, Marriage, and Family. The student will write a 3–4-page summary (not including Title Page and References) in current APA style outlining the different traits, beliefs, rituals, and parenting techniques of the studied cultures and how they align with biblical standards for marriage and family.

Research Paper

The student will write a research paper about 1 of the following theoretical models:

  • Adlerian Family Therapy
  • Bowenian Family Therapy
  • Attachment Theory
  • Cognitive Behavioral Family Therapy
  • Milan Systemic Family Therapy
  • Structural Family Therapy
  • Emotion-Focused Family Therapy
  • Other Family Therapy (must be approved by instructor)

The paper will be 8–10 pages (not including Title Page and References) in current APA format with at least 10 references (5 must be from research/ journal articles) and describe the foundational philosophy behind the chosen model, as well as any primary techniques and the rationale behind the techniques.

The student will conclude the paper with a discussion of the chosen approach to family systems through the lens of Scripture. In addition to offering a theological critique, the student must then offer practical biblical applications that could accompany the techniques of the selected model to reach the goal of spiritual formation within the family system.

Family Member Interview

The student will conduct a 45–60-minute interview of a married grandparent, great aunt/uncle, or the eldest living relative in the family who was also a parent. The interview will incorporate questions relating to their life including, but not limited to, their experience and philosophy of marriage, parenting, faith, and the values system they worked to instill in the family lineage.

Finally, the student will write a 3–4-page summary (not including Title Page and References) in current APA style, documenting both the experience and his/her personal responses to the interview.

Family Genogram

The student will spend time researching his/her family lineage and create a genogram to discover relational, work/career, personality, and other patterns. The genogram must account for at least 3 generations of the student’s own family of origin. One generation must include the student as the “identified person” and the second generation must include his/her parents. The third generation may either be the student’s children (if appropriate) or his/her grandparents. The inclusion of additional generations such as the student’s own grandchildren (if appropriate) or great-grandparents, is encouraged, but not required. Genograms will be reviewed in a confidential manner.

The student will submit, along with his/her genogram, a 3–4-page summary and analysis of his/her family history (not including Title Page and References) in current APA format, noting generational trends and issues or problems. These can be both positive trends and/or things that have been problematic (i.e., trending your family’s spiritual history, education, career choices, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, illness/disease, divorce, addictions, mental/emotional problems, geographic proximity, etc.). In addition, the student will suggest positive patterns he/she would like to instill in his/her own children for successive generations, as well as negative patterns to be avoided. The primary purpose is for the student to be able to answer the following 2 questions:

  • What does your family history tell you?
  • What do you want your family legacy to be?