PP 8050 Family & Couples Therapy Van Dyke, Fall 2002

PP 8050 Family & Couples Therapy Van Dyke, Fall 2002

PP 8050

Family and Couples Therapy

Fall 2007


David J. Van Dyke, Ph.D.







Title / Working with relationship triangles: The one-two-three of psychotherapy
Author(s) / Guerin, P. and colleagues
Copyright / (1996).
Publisher / Guilford Press
ISBN / 1572301430
Title / The practice of emotionally focused marital therapy: Creating connection
Author(s) / Johnson, S.
Copyright / (1996)
Publisher / Brunner-Routledge
ISBN / 0876308175
Title / Families and family therapy
Author(s) / Minuchin, S.
Copyright / (1974)
Publisher / Cambridge,MA: HarvardUniversity Press
ISBN / 0674292367
Title / Family healing: Strategies for hope and understanding
Author(s) / Minuchin, S. & Nichols, M.P.
Copyright / (1993).
Publisher / Free Press
ISBN / 0684855739
Title / Ethnicity and Family Therapy
Author(s) / McGoldrick, M., Giordano, J., & Pearce, J.K.
Copyright / (1996)
Publisher / Guilford Press
ISBN / 0898629594
Edition / 2nd Edition


Title / Steps to an ecology of mind
Author(s) / Bateson, G.
Copyright / (2000).
Publisher / The University of Chicago Press
ISBN / 0226039056
Title / Family Therapy in clinical practice
Author(s) / Bowen, M.
Copyright / (1994)
Publisher / Aronson
ISBN / 1568210116
Title / Family evaluation: An approach based on Bowen therapy
Author(s) / Kerr & Bowen
Copyright / (1988)
Publisher / W.W. Norton & Co.
ISBN / 0393700569
Title / Genograms: Assessment and intervention
Author(s) / McGoldrick, M., Gerson, R., & Shellenberger, S.
Copyright / (1999)
Publisher / W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN / 0393702944
Edition / (2nd Ed.)
Title / Family therapy sourcebook
Author(s) / Piercy, Sprenkle, Wetchler, and associates
Copyright / (1996)
Publisher / The Guilford Press
ISBN / 1572301511
Edition / (2nd Ed.)

This Course Requires the Purchase of a Course Packet: YES NO

PP 8050 Family & Couples Therapy

Fall, 2006

Fridays (9:15 until 12:00)

Faculty:David J. Van Dyke, Ph.D.

Phone: 312.777.7699


T.A.:Erica Thomas

Office Hours: by appointment (office 1296)

Catalogue Description

Theory and skill training in the assessment and treatment of couples and families are emphasized. Theories considered may include several family systems models (e.g., EFT, Structural, Bowen).

Course Objectives

  1. Students will be able to conceptualize human health, problems and resolutions from a systemic perspective.
  2. Students will demonstrate both theory and clinical knowledge of 3 schools of family therapy. They will be able to relate them to family life cycle in diverse ethnicity, religious, social class, disability, and sexual orientation.
  3. The students will demonstrate clinical skills working with families in clinical setting.
  4. Students will be able to identify the interface between family of origin issues and client family issues.

Course Assignments

There are four assignments in this course. They are working with a family (role play) throughout semester, the student’s genogram, group presentations on special topics, and a final exam addressing the student’s conceptual and critical thinking abilities. Missing class will negatively affect your grade.

  1. Abstracts. Students will abstract an assigned chapter from Ethnicity and Family Therapy. They will present for 5 minutes on salient points and provide a copy of the abstract for each student.
  2. “Doing family therapy” (100 points)

Each student is required to “be the therapist” in the role plays. There will be two types of role plays. First, we will do role plays as a class. Second, each student will have time on the first week to develop ‘families.’ You will be in groups of 3-4 and do role plays.

Developing your family role play: Include brief family history and a presenting problem (the rest will be improv). You will work with these families throughout the semester. In these role plays you are to practice systemic interventions and conceptualization of theories addressed in class and the readings. The instructor and T.A. will provide feedback throughout the role play time.

There is an opportunity for supervision on your clinical development. This is very popular and positions are not guaranteed. We will discuss during first class. Time commitment is 45 mins. once a week.

Audiotape all your practice work and review your tape. Present a brief synopsis of your strengths, growth areas in working with the family AND how you are able to stay congruent with the theory(1 page limit). You will be expected to turn these reflectionsin at the end of the semester for each time you are a therapist.

  1. Family Genogram (150 points)
  2. (75 points) Complete an accurate genogram of your family. Include at these 3 generations (i.e., you, your parents, and your grandparents). Please identify the following on your genogram:
  • Names, dates of marriage/births/deaths/separations/divorces (month & year), cultural/ethnic/religious affiliations for all significant family members.
  • Other information like immigration, occupation, education, city/state of residence, illnesses, substance abuse, mental health. Add descriptive information that clarifies relationships as needed (e.g., drug use, in jail, etc.) You may create a “legend’ if additional explanation is warranted.
  • Show schematically the nature of key relationships (e.g., closeness, distance, conflicts).
  • Previous students have found that having interviews/conversations with family members around these areas provide new insight. I encourage you to contact siblings, parents, uncles/aunts, grandparents for corroborating information. Even responses to such requests can be very informative.
  • You may use a medium larger than an 8.5” x 11” piece of paper. The use of different colors for relational lines, etc. may enhance the presentation of the information. Please do not use pencil for final presentation (smears too easily).
  1. (75 points) Submit a 6 page, double spaced paper (APA style) illustrating two of Bowen’s 8 intergenerational principles as applied to your family. The objective of this written assignment is to demonstrate your understanding of Bowenian theory of how family relationship patterns exist across generations in families. Include a self-critique, identifying “interface issues” from your family intergenerational history that you might have as a therapist working with families and couples in general. Address issues related to gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation as well as specific types of presenting problems that you believe interfaces with your family of origin. Remember to include areas of strengths as well as areas that may be more problematic.

Please do not devote much space to describing information already on the genogram.

References for this assignment available in the library:

  • McGoldrick & Gerson (1985). Genograms in family assessment.
  • Carter & McGoldrick (1999). The changing family life cycle.
  • Hall (1991)The bowen family theory and its uses.

** This assignment is intended for both academic mastery of one form of family assessment, but also self-reflection for the student. Disclose ONLY the information that you feel comfortable sharing. TA will not view this assignment. If you do not wish to create a genogram of your family, please contact the instructor for an alternate assignment at least two weeks prior to the deadline.

  1. Group Presentation (100 points)

Groups of three will provide a multi-media presentation (e.g., film clips, role plays, fake newscasts, improv, resources, etc.) on topics pertinent to Marital and Family Therapy. Presentation topics might include: sexuality, affairs, violence, divorce/remarriage, problems of school-age children. Presenters will be asked to provide a seminal article/chapter for classmates to review the week prior to their presentation. The presentation should include handouts for each student on the topic. The presentation should be between 40 minutes in length. Integrate “Ethnicity and Family Therapy” chapter(s) into presentation.

Grading of Presentation: Group members will be required to assign a point value (out of 50 possible points) to their own and their colleagues' investment and participation in the project. The remaining 50 points will be assigned based on content of presentation, reading, and handouts.

  1. Final (150 points)

The Final is an in-class, closed book written assignment. You will be allowed on sheet (with writing on both sides if you like) with content, citations, etc. for your paper. This type of task is similar to the conceptualization that you will do when working with families. You will be presented with a situation from a film. A week before the exam you will be provided with the name of the film you are required to watch. This fill will provide the case material for your conceptualization. A presenting problem from this film will be provided during the final and then you will use one of the three theories presented in class to write a case conceptualization and treatment plan. The following are an example of sections to be included: Assessment technique (i.e., Bowen – genogram), presenting problem and history of family interactions, family functioning, statement of problem from your theoretical position, critique of theory, how it addresses issues of diversity, goals of treatment, initial session, interventions/phases of treatment, and termination.

Citations supporting your positions are expected (minimum of 6). You will have 2.5 hours for the task.

Required Readings

Guerin, P. and colleagues (1996). Working with relationship triangles: The one-two-three of psychotherapy. Guilford Press. ISBN: 1572301430

Johnson, S. (1996). The practice of emotionally focused marital therapy: Creating connection. Brunner-Routledge. ISBN: 0876308175

Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy.Cambridge, MA: HarvardUniversity Press. ISBN: 0674292367

Minuchin, S. & Nichols, M.P. (1993). Family healing: Strategies for hope and understanding. Free Press. ISBN: 0684855739

McGoldrick, M., Giordano, J., & Pearce, J.K. (1996). Ethnicity and Family Therapy, 2nd Edition. Guilford Press.

Recommended Readings

Bateson, G. (2000). Steps to an ecology of mind. The University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 0226039056

Bowen, M. (1994). Family Therapy in clinical practice. Aronson. ISBN:1568210116.

Kerr & Bowen (1988). Family evaluation: An approach based on Bowen therapy. W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN: 0393700569

McGoldrick, M., Gerson, R., & Shellenberger, S. (1999). Genograms: Assessment and intervention (2nd Ed.)

Piercy, Sprenkle, Wetchler, and associates (1996). Family therapy sourcebook (2nd Ed.)


All late assignments and missed classes will affect your grade

Grades will be distributed by according to percentage of points possible (500 pts).

A = 100 – 96%A- = 95 – 90%B+ = 89 – 86%

B = 85 – 83%B- = 82 – 79%C+ = 78 – 76%

C = 75 – 73%C- = 72 – 69%D = 68% - 59%

Course Schedule

Week / Topic / Readings / Assignment
Sept 7 / Syllabus
Family systems intro / In class handout / Develop family for role plays
Sept 14 / General Systems Theory & Cybernetics / Bowen chp. 14, 16
Sept 21 / Structural Family Therapy / FH p 1 – 60
FFT p 1 – 88; 206 – 239
Sept 28 / Structural Family Therapy / FH p 109 –192
FFT p 89 – 188
Oct 5 / Structural Family Therapy / FH p 61 – 108; 193 – 283
FFT p 189 – 258
Oct 12 / Bowenian Family Therapy / Guerin p. 1 – 74; 222 - 236
Bowen chp. 11, 15, 17, 18
Hall chapter on reserve
Oct 19 / Bowenian Family Therapy / Guerin p. 75 – 168
Bowen chps. 1 - 9
Oct 26 / Bowenian Family Therapy / Guerin p. 169 - 221
Bowen chps. 10, 12, 13, 19, 20, 21, 22 / Genogram
Nov 2 / Emotional Focused Therapy / Johnson p. 1 - 90
Nov 9 / Emotional Focused Therapy / Johnson p. 91 - 142
Nov 16 / Emotional Focused Therapy / Johnson p. 143 - end
Dec 1 / Final / FINAL EXAM
Dec 7 / Presentation: Specific Topic / Presentations
Dec 14 / Presentation: Specific Topic

** Additional reading will be distributed throughout the course

Program Outcomes: The Doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at Argosy University Chicago Campus is an APA accredited program (APA, 750 First St. NE, Washington, DC20002, 202-336-5500). This program is designed to educate and train students so that they may eventually be able to function effectively as clinical psychologists. To ensure that students are prepared adequately, the curriculum provides for the meaningful integration of theory, training and practice. The Clinical Psychology program at Argosy University Chicago Campus emphasizes the development of attitudes, knowledge, and skills essential in the formation of professional psychologists who are committed to the ethical provision of quality services. Specific objectives of the program include the following:

  • Goal 1: Prepare professional psychologists to accurately, effectively, and ethically select, administer, score, interpret, and communicate findings of appropriate assessment methods informed by accepted psychometric standards and sensitive to the diverse characteristics and needs of clients.
  • Objective 1a: Accurately and ethically administer and score various psychodiagnostic instruments.
  • Objective 1b: Accurately interpret and synthesize assessment data in the context of diversity factors, referral questions, and specific objectives of the assessment, and organize and communicate results in writing and orally.
  • Objective 1c: Examine psychometric properties of psychological assessment instruments, and use that knowledge to evaluate, select, administer, and interpret psychological tests and measures appropriate for the client, the referral question, and the objectives of the assessment.
  • Goal 2: Prepare professional psychologists to select, implement, and evaluate psychological interventions consistent with current ethical, evidence-based, and professional standards, within a theoretical framework, and with sensitivity to the interpersonal processes of the therapeutic relationship and the diverse characteristics and needs of clients.
  • Objective 2a: Synthesize the foundations of clinical psychology, including psychopathology, human development, diagnosis, diversity, ethics, and various therapeutic models in clinical applications.
  • Objective 2b: Select, plan, and implement ethical and evidence-based interventions with sensitivity to the diverse characteristics and needs of clients.
  • Objective 2c: Demonstrate knowledge, skills, and attitudes to effectively implement and participate in psychological consultation and supervision.
    Objective 2d: Demonstrate personal development and self-reflective capacity, including growth of interpersonal skills, and therapeutic relationships.
  • Goal 3: Prepare professional psychologists to analyze the complexity and multidimensionality of human diversity, and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to understand diverse worldviews and the potential meaning of social, cultural, and individual differences for professional psychological services.
  • Goal 4: Prepare professional psychologists to examine the historical context and the current body of knowledge of biological, cognitive, affective, developmental, and social bases of human functioning.
  • Goal 5: Prepare professional psychologists to critically evaluate the current and evolving body of scholarly literature in psychology to inform professional practice.

The Master’s Program in Clinical Psychology has been designed to educate and train students to enter a professional career as MA level practitioners. Argosy University/Chicago Campus provides students an educational program with all the necessary theoretical and clinical elements that will allow them to be effective members of a mental health team. The program introduces students to basic clinical skills that integrate individual and group theoretical foundations of applied psychology into appropriate client interactions and intervention skills. In addition, the Program offers excellent preparation for those considering application to the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology.


All resources in ArgosyUniversity’s online collection are available through the Internet. The campus librarian will provide students with links, user IDs, and passwords.

Library Resources: ArgosyUniversity’s core online collection features nearly 21,000 full-text journals and 23,000 electronic books and other content covering all academic subject areas including Business & Economics, Career & General Education, Computers, Engineering & Applied Science, Humanities, Science, Medicine & Allied Health, and Social & Behavior Sciences. Many titles are directly accessible through the Online Public Access Catalog at Detailed descriptions of online resources are located at

In addition to online resources, ArgosyUniversity’s onsite collections contain a wealth of subject-specific research materials searchable in the Online Public Access Catalog. Catalog searching is easily limited to individual campus collections. Alternatively, students can search combined collections of all Argosy University Libraries. Students are encouraged to seek research and reference assistance from campus librarians.

Information Literacy: ArgosyUniversity’s Information Literacy Tutorial was developed to teach students fundamental and transferable research skills. The tutorial consists of five modules where students learn to select sources appropriate for academic-level research, search periodical indexes and search engines, and evaluate and cite information. In the tutorial, students study concepts and practice them through interactions. At the conclusion of each module, they can test their comprehension and receive immediate feedback. Each module takes less than 20 minutes to complete. Please view the tutorial at

Academic Policies

Academic Dishonesty/Plagiarism: In an effort to foster a spirit of honesty and integrity during the learning process, ArgosyUniversity requires that the submission of all course assignments represent the original work produced by that student. All sources must be documented through normal scholarly references/citations and all work must be submitted using the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th Edition (2001). WashingtonDC: American Psychological Association (APA) format. Please refer to Appendix A in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th Edition for thesis and paper format. Students are encouraged to purchase this manual (required in some courses) and become familiar with its content as well as consult the ArgosyUniversity catalog for further information regarding academic dishonesty and plagiarism.

Scholarly writing: The faculty at ArgosyUniversity is dedicated to providing a learning environment that supports scholarly and ethical writing, free from academic dishonesty and plagiarism. This includes the proper and appropriate referencing of all sources. You may be asked to submit your course assignments through “Turnitin,” ( an online resource established to help educators develop writing/research skills and detect potential cases of academic dishonesty. Turnitin compares submitted papers to billions of pages of content and provides a comparison report to your instructor. This comparison detects papers that share common information and duplicative language.

Americans with Disabilities Act Policy

It is the policy of ArgosyUniversity to make reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If a student with disabilities needs accommodations, the student must notify the Director of Student Services. Procedures for documenting student disability and the development of reasonable accommodations will be provided to the student upon request.

Students will be notified by the Director of Student Services when each request for accommodation is approved or denied in writing via a designated form. To receive accommodation in class, it is the student’s responsibility to present the form (at his or her discretion) to the instructor. In an effort to protect student privacy, the Department of Student Services will not discuss the accommodation needs of any student with instructors. Faculty may not make accommodations for individuals who have not been approved in this manner.