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Family Therapy: Its Foundation and Evolution

6 CE Credits/Hours - Online Course - $59.00

Developed by Tom Smith, Ph.D.

This course includes materials consisting of:

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General Course Description

The purpose of this advanced level course is to reconnect with the foundations and principles of family therapy and to understand how history has transitioned us from a systems perspective to our current status. With this understanding we can better evaluate, expand and perhaps change our methods of the art of Family Therapy to be more faithful to the professional identity and description of Marriage and Family Therapists.

The course is composed of eleven articles, some very brief and others comprehensive, discussing the history, theory and practice of systemic family therapies leading up to the postmodern era and the emergence of narrative therapy followed by a summary of current trends.

The first article, "The Evolution of Family Therapies," is a general overview and summary of the entire course; the second, "The Theory and Practice of Family Social Work Since 1880," provides a detailed literary and historical account of the earliest beginnings of family theory and practice by social workers; the third, "Counseling Families from a Systems Perspective," is a general summary of the systemic theoretical models that also briefly addresses characteristics of the dysfunctional family, interventions and goals of family treatment and counseling techniques; the fourth, "Basic Techniques in Marriage and Family Counseling," lists and discusses various eclectic techniques customized to fit the unique situation presented to the family therapist; the fifth, "Outcome Research in Family Therapy," discusses the question, 'Does family therapy work?'; the sixth, "Family-Directed Structural Therapy," discusses a modified approach to Structural therapy; the seventh, "The Narrative Dance - A Practice Map for White's Therapy," is a comprehensive discussion that focuses on the essential aspects and core dimensions of Michael White and David Epston's Narrative therapy approach; the eighth, "Where is the family in narrative family therapy?" is a provocative criticism of Narrative therapy by Salvador Minuchin; the ninth, "Narrative therapy expands and contracts family therapy's horizons," is an expanded and balanced discussion in response to the previous Minuchin article; and finally, the tenth and eleventh articles, "Innovations in Family Practice: Context Matters" and "Afterword: Challenges for Family Practitioners," taken from the Michigan Family Review, addresses future issues of concern to a wide range of professionals and others interested in strengthening family life.

Educational Objectives

This course will teach psychotherapists to:

1.    Summarize and reconnect to the historical and theoretical foundations of systemic. family therapy and the emergence of the postmodern narrative school.

2.    Describe the methods of the systemic and postmodern narrative schools.

3.    Identify the state of family therapy and current trends at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

4.    Recognize the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to resolving family problems.

5.    Evaluate, expand and change our current methods of dealing with family problems.

6.    Construct a mindset that is more faithful to one's identity as a Marriage and Family therapist.

Course Syllabus

Where we have come from: Systemic approaches to family therapy: The late '40s to the late '80s

  • The origins of family therapy in social work
  • The Transgenerational approach
  • Experiential family therapy
  • Structural family therapy
  • Strategic family therapy
  • The Milan school Counseling families from a systems perspective
  • Eclectic approaches to family therapy

Our Current Status: From the '90s to the twenty-first century

  • Does family therapy work?
  • Modified approaches
  • Postmodern approaches: The emergence of narrative therapy
  • Critique of the postmodern approach
  • Current trends, innovations & challenges
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