Marriage and Family Counseling – PACO 615

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

Course Description

This course introduces students to the dynamics of marriage and family relationships. Emphasis is on understanding the structure and function of marriage, the various aspects of the marital relationship, family systems, and ways the counselor may approach marriage and family counseling as a creative, preventative, and healing ministry.


PACO 500 and PACO 501


Marriages in the United States are failing at a minimum rate of at least 50 percent, or one out of every two marriages. This fact is true both within Christianity as well as society as a whole. This course teaches the aspiring pastoral counselor how to meet the needs of hurting couples and to point them toward health and wholeness.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify the basic foundations of marriage and family counseling history, philosophy, trends, ethics, theories, and role of the pastoral counselor.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to apply counseling models and techniques to appropriate situations related to couple and family counseling.
  3. Conceptualize issues in marriage, couple, and family counseling and implement treatment, planning, and intervention strategies.
  4. Demonstrate, through the use of intake information, family history, ethnic sensitivities, family of origin issues, genograms, and family life cycle issues as well as the ability to apply appropriate counseling models and strategies.
  5. Integrate biblical principles, secular marriage, and family counseling theories in a responsible, eclectic manner.
  6. Conceptualize ethical and legal standards such as confidentiality, legal responsibilities, and liabilities of pastoral practice.
  7. Apply relevant research findings to inform the practice of marriage, couple, and family counseling.

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 Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forums (4)

Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to provide a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be 300 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be 150 words.

Values, Vision, Mission, & Goals Paper

The student will write a Values, Vision, Mission, & Goals Paper. The student will will develop an original hypothetical case study that depicts a Christian married couple in counseling.  The student will describe the hypothetical couple’s values related to marriage, will create a vision statement and a mission statement, and will write two SMART goals in each of the following seven areas: physical, psychological, relational, financial, professional, recreational, and spiritual.

Movie Reviews (2)

The student is to complete 2 movie reviews by watching a movie of his/her choosing that has a strong marital theme. The student must then complete a 3–4-page critique of the movie as it relates to the topic of marriage (the page count does not include the title page). The student must pay particular attention to how the ideas presented in this movie might be used to counsel couples in a marital setting. These assignments must have a title page with the student’s name, the course number, the instructor’s name, the assignment number (Movie Review 1), and the date. The reviews must be written in current APA format.

4MAT Book Critique

The student will complete a 4MAT paper during the course of his/her study. The paper covers one of the three required textbooks in this course. The critique must be written in current APA format.

Mid-Term and Final Exams

The Mid-Term and Final exams will cover the Reading & Study material for the assigned modules/weeks. Each exam will be open-book/open-notes, contain 50 multiple-choice questions, and have a 1-hour and 30-minute time limit.