TeacherDr. M. Großklaus
SemesterFallDuration8 Weeks
FrequencyEvery three years
Credits5 ECTSWorkload125-150 Hours
Module formatIntensive
ApplicabilityThis Module is the basis for all other modules in this course of study. Ideally, it should be studied first before all others as the terminology and methodology are established.
Course structureSee module and courses
Contact time35-45 HoursSelf-Study105-125 Hours
Participation requirementSee access to the program
Phase 15020%
Readings & Journal
Phase 24040%
Phase 36040%
Research Paper
Content of the ModuleAn introduction to current and traditional theories of the family, with attention given to the evolution of these frameworks, as well as recent theoretical developments and research pertaining to the study of the family. Applications of these frameworks to family studies will focus on the diversity among families due to various contextual factors (e.g. race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, family structure, history, and sociopolitical context).
This course is intended to examine major theoretical frameworks which explain variation in family life, including the exchange, symbolic interaction, family life course development, systems, conflict, feminist, and ecological theoretical frameworks. Students will consider how theory relates to very real aspects of family life, compare and contrast theories, explore various typologies for analyzing and comparing the seven frameworks, and give attention to future theory development.
Learning Objectives

A. General Learning Objectives
This course seeks to:

  1. Engage the student in exploring philosophies of science and functions of theory.
  2. Introduce the student to traditional theories of the family.
  3. Introduce the student to current theories of the family.
  4. Provide an overview of postmodernism as related to family studies.
  5. Examine the state of family theory and its future.

B. Specific Behavioral Objectives
As a result of the activities and study in this course, the student should be able to:

  1. Explain systems concepts and theories that are foundational to the practice of marriage and family therapy.
  2. Recognize contextual and systemic dynamics (e.g. gender, age, socioeconomic status, culture/race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, spirituality, religion, larger systems, and social context).
  3. Identify clients’ strengths, resilience, and resources.
  4. Demonstrate an ability to view issues and therapeutic processes systemically.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the system's framework, including concepts, propositions, and implications for intervention.
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of the feminist framework, including concepts, propositions, and implications for intervention.
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of the ecological framework, including concepts, propositions, and implications for intervention.
  8. Demonstrate an understanding of current research as related to applications and issues in family life such as balance, resources, cooperation, rituals, work, stress, abuse, sexuality and reproduction, divorce, and alternative family forms.
OutlineA. History and development of family therapy
B. What is a Theory?
C. Philosophies of Science
D. Functions of a Theory
E. Theories about Families
F. A history of theory in family therapy
G. Traditional Theories
H. Current Theories
I. The Functionalist Framework
J. The Symbolic Interaction Framework
K. The Systems Framework
L. The Conflict Framework
M. The Feminist Framework
N. The Ecological Framework
O. The State of Family Theory and Its Future
P. Applications and Issues
ExaminationSee Evaluation
Core Literature

Balswick, J. O., & Balswick, J. K. (2014). The family: A Christian perspective on the contemporary home (4th ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Reading List:
Cassidy, J., & Shaver, P. (Eds.). Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications. NY: Guilford.
Castonguay, L. G., & Oltmanns, T. F. (2013). Psychopathology: From science to clinical practice. NY: Guilford.
Cozolino, L. (2006). The neuroscience of human relationships: Attachment and the developing social brain. NY: Norton.
Hecker, L. L., & Wetchler, J. L. (Eds.). (2003). An introduction to marriage and family therapy. Routledge.
Holeman, V. T. (2012). Theology for better counseling: Trinitarian reflections for healing and formation. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.
Sanders, R. (Ed.). (2013). Christian counseling ethics: A handbook for psychologists, therapists and pastors. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.
Shults, F. L., & Sandage, S. J. (2006). Transforming Spirituality: Integrating theology and psychology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Solomon, M., & Tatkin, S. (2011). Love and war in intimate relationships: Connection, disconnection, and mutual regulation in couple therapy. NY: Norton.
Walker, M., & Rosen, W. (Eds.). (2004). How connections heal: Stories from Relational-Cultural Therapy. NY: Guilford.
Walsh, F. (Ed.). (2009). Spiritual resources in family therapy (2nd ed.). NY: Guilford.
Wilkinson, M. (2010). Changing minds in therapy: Emotion, attachment, trauma & neurobiology. NY: Norton.

Other information