Marriage and Family Counseling I – HSMF 601

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 05/18/2022

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 a historical perspective are presented along with current developments within marriage and family systemic models.

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. HSMF 601 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.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Examine and critique the historical development of marriage and family counseling.
  2. Attribute and demonstrate appropriate ethical and legal consideration related to marriage, couple, and/or family counseling.
  3. Articulate aspects of various professional organizations, standards of practice, credentialing, and licensure in the field of marriage and family counseling.
  4. Differentiate and apply a variety of marriage and family models and theories related to the many counseling orientations.
  5. Discuss and integrate knowledge of family life cycles/stages, various family systems, contemporary families, family health and wellness, cultural variances in families, and family phenomenology.
  6. Critique and hypothesize how crises, trauma, abuse, divorce, and disasters affect the family system.
  7. Demonstrate the ability to apply and adhere to ethical and legal standards established by ACA, AACC, AAMFT, and the IAMFC codes of ethics.
  8. Integrate biblical principles and secular theories in a responsible, eclectic manner.
  9. Select and apply techniques from various counseling orientations/models to case studies and family situations.
  10. Observe a family and generate a family observation paper discussing patterns of behavior, attitudes, and/or pathology.
  11. Analyze and hypothesize various family dynamics that have shaped the family system over the life span using the genogram data.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

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

Discussions (4)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student will participate in 4 Discussions. The student will create an initial thread in response to the provided prompt. Threads must be at least 300 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. The student is required to reply to at least 2 classmate’s threads. Each reply must be at least 150 words. 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 to learn how faith can be integrated within counseling. Each post should include scholarly evidence, from the text or peer-reviewed articles to support the points of the threads. (MLO: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K)

The student will confirm active preparation for the Family Observation Presentation Assignment. (MLO: A, D, E, G, H)

Ethical Analysis Paper Assignment

Students will complete a paper analyzing the ethical dimension of family therapy. This paper should be three pages of content, with a cover page and a reference page (an abstract is not needed) for a total of five pages. (MLO: A, D, E, G, H)

Family Observation Presentation Assignment

Students will conduct a family observation. The student can do this in person, or the student may view a family sitcom and observe the family dynamics. The observation of the family should last at least one hour. The student will prepare a ten slide presentation summary of his/her observations, with a cover slide, and a reference slide, for a minimum of twelve slides. The student must include at least three scholarly references to support the observations from a family systems approach. (MLO: E, F, H, I, J)

Family Genogram Project Assignment

The student will use the GenoPro software and the textbooks to prepare a family genogram based on novel, film, or biography. The student will also write a 5-page paper in current APA format analyzing the genogram. (MLO: H, J, K)

Quizzes (8)

Students will take 8 quizzes in this course that cover the Learn material for the assigned Module: Week. 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 20 multiple choice and/or true/false questions, and have a 1-hour time limit. (MLO: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I)