PUB HLTH 7013 - Family & Relationships Counselling

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2019

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 2
    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-linevideo 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


    Workshop theme(s) and Activities

    Course overview and introduction to Family Therapy

    Course overview; Introduction to course texts, readings and key journals. Introduction to family and relationship counselling and systemic thinking. Brief overview of approaches to counselling.

    Bowen Theory – main concepts

    Family Systems Theory

    Family systems theory. Models of family and couple counselling. Postmodern and cultural considerations; Reflection on own therapeutic style; History of the family therapy schools; Family resilience.

    Using the Checklist for On-going Assessment

    Family Development Stages

    Family development stages. Establishing a life cycle perspective. Developmental stages with an intact family.

    Practical tools: Create genogram for own family

    Major Theories and Assessment Techniques

    Major underlying theories and assessment techniques. Types of families; marital satisfaction; lifecycle stages; forming a therapeutic alliance; assessment tools; first session goals and structure. First session activities;

    Practical tools: Ecomap construction.

    Working with couples

    Working with Couples – as a support for families. Working with parents and adolescents.

    Analyse family session on DVD

    Multigenerational counselling

    A: Multigenerational counselling; Experiential counselling;

    B: Understanding couple stressors and dynamics.

    Role-play of a family session

    Approaches to couples counselling - 1

    Cognitive behavioural couples counselling;

    Solution-focussed therapy;

    View and discuss DVD: Cognitive-Behavioural Couples Therapy with Arthur Freeman;

    Approaches to couples counselling - 2

    A: Emotion-focussed counselling with;

    B: Group work and relationships

    View and discuss DVD: Emotionally Focused Therapy with Couples – with Leslie Greenberg

    Approaches to couples  counselling 3

    A: Integrative model

    B: Using visual/spatial techniques with couples, families, and groups.

    Practical tools: use of symbol work with couples

    Separation and divorce

    Separation and divorce; divorce statistics, prevention and recovery; Counselling for the stages of divorce.

    Practical tools: Circular questioning skills practice

    Assessment of student skills  DVDs

    Presentations of collaborative videos (Assignment 3) of skills role-plays; student facilitation of class discussion and peer assessment.

    Review and revision

    Revisiting and revision activities; Applying session plans to a case scenario; Reflecting on own therapy style preferences; Collaborating in a course revision activity.

    Specific Course Requirements
    To pass this course, students must: Submit two written assignments. Participate in a  peer-collaboration video project, and facilitate the in-class learning conversation about it, as well as peer assessment. Participate in seminar activities and class discussions throughout the seminar according to group norms and standards.

    Small Group Discovery Experience
  • 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 


    Learning Outcome

    Written Assignment 1.  Personal  reflection on own family system.



    1, 3, 4, 5

    Written Assignment 2.  Critical analysis of two couples  counselling  approaches



    1, 2, 4, 5, 7

    Assignment 3. Group video presentation and class discussion.



    1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7




    3, 7

    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.

    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.
    All extensions for assignments must be requested, at the latest, by the last working day before the due date of submission.   Extensions will generally be granted only on medical or genuine compassionate grounds. Supporting documentation must be provided at the time a student requests an extension. Without documentation, extensions will not be granted. Late requests for extension will neither be accepted nor acknowledged.

    Only the Course Co-ordinator(s) may grant extensions.

    Supporting documentation will be required when requesting an extension. Examples of documents that are acceptable include: a  medical certificate that specifies dates of incapacity, a police report (in the case of lost computers, car & household theft etc.), a  letter from a Student Counsellor, Education and Welfare Officer (EWO) or Disability Liaison Officer that provides an assessment of  compassionate circumstances, or a letter from an independent external counsellor or appropriate professional able to verify the student’s situation. The length of any extension granted will take into account the period and severity of any incapacity or impact  on the student. Extensions of more than 10 days will not be granted except in exceptional circumstances.

    Late submission
    Marks will be deducted when assignments for which no extension has been granted are handed in late.

    All assignments, including those handed in late, will be assessed on their merits. In the case of late assignments where no  extension has been granted, 5 percentage points of the total marks possible per day will be deducted. If an assignment that is 2 days late is awarded 65% on its merits, the mark will then be reduced by 10% (5% per day for 2 days) to 55%. If that same  assignment is 4 days late, the mark will be reduced by 20% (5% per day for 4 days) to 45%, and so on.

    The School of Public Health reserves the right to refuse to accept an assignment that is more than 7 days late.

    Assignments submitted after the due date may not be graded in time to be returned on the listed return dates.

    Students submitting examinable written work who request (and receive) an extension that takes them beyond the examination  period are advised that there is no guarantee that their grades will be processed in time to meet usual University deadlines.
    If a student is dissatisfied with an assessment grade they should follow the Student Grievance Resolution Process Students who are not satisfied with a particular assessment result should raise their concerns with Course Co-ordinator(s) in the first instance. This must be done within 10 business days of  the date of notification of the result. Resubmission of any assignment is subject to the agreement of the Course Co-ordinator(s) and will only be permitted for the most compelling of reasons.

    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.

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