PUB HLTH 7013 - Family & Relationships Counselling

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2018

This course examines developmental and therapeutic issues that relate to working with families and couples. A survey of pioneering theory and technique leads into contemporary, post-modern and integrative approaches. The course first examines family systems and structure, family development stages and the types of stresses a family may have to negotiate. It will introduce a range of models of family and couples counselling, including multigenerational, experiential, cognitive behavioural, emotion-focused, narrative, solution-focussed and integrative models, and note their relevance in group counselling. It will address assessment techniques and practical interventions, and provide skills development in applying systems theory in counselling.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PUB HLTH 7013
    Course Family & Relationships Counselling
    Coordinating Unit Public Health
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 2.5 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Prerequisites PUB HLTH 5006, PUB HLTH 5007, PUB HLTH 6018, PUB HLTH 6021
    Restrictions Available to MCounsPsych students only or with approval of Program Coordinator
    Course Description This course examines developmental and therapeutic issues that relate to working with families and couples. A survey of pioneering theory and technique leads into contemporary, post-modern and integrative approaches. The course first examines family systems and structure, family development stages and the types of stresses a family may have to negotiate. It will introduce a range of models of family and couples counselling, including multigenerational, experiential, cognitive behavioural, emotion-focused, narrative, solution-focussed and integrative models, and note their relevance in group counselling. It will address assessment techniques and practical interventions, and provide skills development in applying systems theory in counselling.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Matt Doherty

    Course Coordinator: Dr Matthew Doherty
    Phone: +61 8313 4340
    Level 9, AMHS, North Terrace

    Student & Program Support Services Hub
    Phone: +61 8313 0273
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes


    Outline knowledge of the underlying theories and core concepts of key approaches to family and relationship counselling;  


    Critically appraise research studies related to the clinical application of various approaches to family and relationship counselling;


    Demonstrate an understanding of family systems, structure, developmental stages and changes through class discussions and written assignments;


    Analyse and apply a variety of techniques and approaches to family and relationship counselling; these may include systems, experiential, developmental, cognitive-behavioural, emotion-focussed, narrative and integrative models;


    Demonstrate practical knowledge of common counselling issues that are presented by families and couples, through class discussions and written assignments;


    Recognise issues of cultural and other diversity in the formation of families and relationships;


    Appropriately apply intervention skills for working with families and couples to resolve relationship difficulties, through a written assignment;


    Appraise resources to support continuous learning regarding family and relationship counselling.

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1-5, 7
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    2, 8
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    An important component of this unit is regular reading and reflection, intended to clarify and expand on material covered in class.

    Required textbooks
    Goldenberg, H., & Goldenberg, I. (2013). Family therapy: An overview (8th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole - Cengage Learning.

    Long, L. L., & Young, M. E. (2007). Counselling and therapy for couples (2nd Ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

    Links to required background readings will be made available to participants via MyUni.

    Recommended Resources
    Brown, J. H., & Brown, C. S. (2002). Marital therapy: Concepts and skills for effective practice. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

    McGoldrick, M., Carter, B., & Garcia-Preto, N. (2010). The expanded family life cycle: Individual, family, and social perspectives (4th Ed.) Pearson Education.

    Shaw, E., & Crawley. J. (2007). Couple therapy in Australia: Issues emerging from practice. Kew, VIC: Psychoz Publications.

    Rhodes, P., & Wallis, A. (Eds.) (2011). A practical guide to family therapy. Structured guidelines and key skills. Melbourne: IP Communications.

    Copies of readings (relevant journal articles) will be made available via MyUni.

    A range of videos and Youtube clips will be recommended for students to study
    Online Learning
    All students enrolled in a postgraduate coursework program have access to a Postgraduate Coursework Student Centre on MyUni. This course is available on MyUni at Please check the website regularly as it may contain announcements that are relevant to your study in the course.  Weekly lecture notes will be provided via MyUni. Links to literature that supports class discussions and assignment preparation will be available via MyUni.
    If you would like the opportunity to network with other students, you can use the Communication features in the site
    Send Email – This feature enables users to send email to fellow students.
    Group Pages – Groups enable Users to collaborate with each other. Groups usually consist of a smaller group of Users in a course or organisation, such as study groups or project groups. From a Group Page, users may send email, exchange files, enter discussion forums or enter collaboration sessions.
    Please note that you also have access to individual MyUni sites for EACH course you are enrolled in. Please check the sites regularly as they may contain important announcements that are relevant to your study in the course.

    Access Adelaide
    Access Adelaide is the name of the online service that allows you to access and, in some cases, amend your records. It can be found at:
    You can log into Access Adelaide to view: -
    - your enrolment details for any term
    - your academic results
    - your unofficial academic transcript
    - your personal details
    - the fees, charges and payments on your University account
    - your graduation eligibility details.
    As a student you can: - change your address and telephone details (please inform the School as well)
    - change your password
    - set a password clue to help you remember your password.

    Student email
    It is important that you set up your student email and check it regularly. Information from your course coordinator and student administration will be sent to you at your University of Adelaide email address. It is your responsibility to check your email. You will need your student number located on your student card to log in.

    Where can I use a computer in the University?  Computing facilities are provided to students by the University, and there are
    several suites of computers available, including at the Barr Smith Library and in Hub Central. The University web site has a list of computer labs at:

    Internet access
    The University provides a free dial-up service to students without the need for a commercial ISP account. This service is available at the cost of a local call to students residing within Adelaide (please refer to your telecommunications provider for confirmation of call costs). Students residing outside these numbers can dial into the University at STD call rates ( Postgraduate Coursework students will receive a University Funded Quota of 500Mb.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will be an experiential and interactive one, with 12 weekly (2.5 hour) sessions, including didactic sessions, small group and large group discussions, and role playing of introduced skills. The lecturers will use illustrations from their own work and case summaries presented by students, along with structured exercises and group discussion, as a way of supporting participants to engage with the various models of practice. Students will be exposed to a variety of approaches, with an emphasis on their connecting the learning to their own work and areas of interest and preferred counselling modalities, to develop their own ways of working in this area of practice. The didactic and other face-to-face sessions will be supported by readings and videos, and assessments designed to assist integration of learning and development of skills.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
    The course comprises two and a half hours every week, of lecture, seminar and small-group discussions. Sessions will be seminar/workshop format, with a mixture of lectures and interactive exercises, and it is compulsory for all students to attend. Essential readings or on-line video material will be recommended.

    Face to Face lectures and practicals: 2.5 hours / week
    Core/background readings: 6 hours / week
    Preparation of assignments: 4 hours / week .
    Learning Activities Summary

    Session1: Course overview and introduction to Family Therapy Course overview; Introduction to course texts, readings and key journals. Introduction to family and relationship counselling.

    Session 2: Family Development Theory/ Stages This workshop will explore family development theory and encourage reflection on personal family dynamics.

    Session 3: Family systems theory: Multigenerational (Bowen), Communications/Humanistic, Object relations & Structural An examination of different iterations of family systems theory.

    Session 4: Family assessment & therapeutic planning A look at various methods of assessing family dynamics and planning therapeutic intervention.

    Session 5: Counselling work with families-therapeutic alliance, complexities, ethics A broader view of therapeutic work in the family context.

    Session 6: Working parents and adolescents An examination of therapeutic work with adolescents and their parents.

    Session 7:Relationships counselling An introduction to working therapeutically with couples.

    Session 8: Psychodynamic couples & family counselling An introduction to psychodynamic tools in working with families and couples.

    Session 9: CBT and SFT couples & family counselling An introduction to using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Solution Focussed Therapy in family and couples counselling.

    Session 10: Integrative Behavioural Couple Therapy & Emotion Focussed Therapy An introduction to Integrative Behavioural and Emotion Focussed Therapies with families and couples.

    Session 11: Presentations of collaborative videos (Assignment 3) of skills role-plays; student facilitation of class discussion and peer assessment. Student groups will present their work based on assignment three.

    Session 12: Review and revision Tying everything together and developing a session plan.
    Specific Course Requirements
    Assumed Knowledge: Counselling Skills 1 & 2, Theories of Counselling & Psychotherapy, or equivalent

    Restrictions: Available only to Counselling and Psychotherapy students, or with permission of the Course Coordinator
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Students will be required to work in a number of smal group situations in which they explore various aspects of therapy with families. Details of these activities will be explained during class time.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Weighting
    Written Assignment 1 Personal reflection on own family system. Summative 25%
    Written Assignment 2. Critical analysis of two couples counselling approaches Summative 35%
    Assignment 3 Group video presentation and class discussion. Summative 30%
    Participation Summative 10%
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Students are advised to comply with word limits for written assignments, and time limits for the group video and discussion. A 10% leeway on either side is acceptable.
    Assessment Detail
    Written assignment 1 (25%): Word limit – 2,000
    Family system analysis – relating multigenerational and developmental theory to student’s family of origin.

    Written assignment 2 (35%): Word limit – 2,500
    Critical analysis of two approaches to couples counselling, applied to a fictional case.

    Assignment 3 Group video presentation (30%): (Presented in class)
    Collaborative course review project presenting an aspect of learned material:

    Participation (10%):
    Assessment by instructor. Assessment of class participation is based on consideration of the student’s attendance record, their ability to manage time (in terms of attendance and assignment submission), their engagement in developing and fostering group norms for the class, their willingness to offer questions in class, engagement in small-group discussions and learning tasks, their respectful and professional engagement with peers and staff, evidence of their tolerance with peers and clients, and their ability to modify behaviour in response to feedback from peers or staff.

    Further instructions and marking templates for all assignments will be provided via MyUni.
    Details will be made available on MyUni.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.