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Fall 2012




FS500: FAMILY SYSTEMS DYNAMICS.  Gloria J. Gabler, Ph.D.  4 units.




The objective of this course is to acquaint the beginning student of marriage and the family with the framework commonly known as "systems theory."  Both the lecture material and the readings are directed toward helping the student to "think systems," i.e. to conceptualize the dynamics of family relationships in systemic terms.  The course examines a variety of issues related to the social processes within the family itself, including how families handle stress and conflict.  This will be addressed from within a larger ecological view of family stress and crisis.  Different theories of family interaction will be surveyed, with the family conceptualized as a behavioral, emotional, and linguistic system.  Special emphasis will be also be given to the application of systemic thought to the ministry setting of the local church.



Students who complete this course will be able to:

1.     Explain a variety of systemic concepts and apply them to families;

2.     Identify and articulate the role of ecosystemic / contextual variables in the functioning of families.



The course is designed to meet the following outcomes:

1.     Demonstrate the ability to provide excellent preventative and or transformational mental health services to the church and the wider community.

2.     Graduates will be prepared to contribute to the development of knowledge as it relates to the interface of religious, spiritual and psychological functioning.

3.     Graduates will be aware of and critically engage ecclesial, societal, and global issues from Christian theological perspectives and demonstrate the ability to make informed choices toward positive change.

4.     Graduates will demonstrate the ability to identify critical issues of diversity and make appropriate responses.

5.     Graduates will be able to pursue careers consistent with their education.



This 4 unit course meets on three weekends (Oct. 5-6, 19-20, and Nov. 5-6) and on three Wednesday evenings for lecture and discussion.  There will normally be ten-minute breaks at appropriate points during class time.



Nichols, M. P. (2008). Inside family therapy: A case study in family healing (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.  ISBN 978-0205611072, $46.60.

Nichols, M. P. (2010). Family therapy: Concepts and methods (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.  ISBN 978-0205768936, $115.20.  (Note: this text may be used in other courses as well.)

Watzlawick, P., Beavin, J. H., & Jackson, D. D. (1967). The pragmatics of human communication. New York, NY: Norton.  ISBN 978-0393010091, $27.00.



Blume, T. W. (2006).  Becoming a family counselor.  New York, NY: Wiley. ISBN-10: 0471221384, $64.68

Boss, P. (Ed.).  (2002).  Family stress: Classic and contemporary readings.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ISBN-10: 0761926127, $69.95

Datillio, F. M. (Ed.).  (1998). Case studies in couple and family therapy: Systemic and cognitive perspectives.  New York, NY: Guilford. ISBN-10: 1572302976, $70.00

Freedman, J., & Combs, G. (1996).  Narrative therapy: The social construction of preferred realities.  New York, NY: Norton. ISBN-10: 0393702073, $39.00

Gilbert, R. M. (1992). Extraordinary relationships: A new way of thinking about human interactions.  New York, NY: Wiley. ISBN-10: 047134690X, $15.95

Gilbert, R. M. (2006).  The eight concepts of Bowen theory.  Falls Church, VA: Leading Systems Press. ISBN-10: 097634551X, $12.50

Gottman, J., Katz, L. F., & Hooven, C. (1996).  Meta-emotion: How families communicate emotionally.  Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. ISBN-10: 0805819967, $62.50

Hoffman, L. (2001).  Family therapy: An intimate history.  New York, NY: Norton. ISBN-10: 0393703800, $35.00

Johnson, S. (2008). Hold me tight. New York, NY: Little, Brown. ISBN-10: 031611300X

Karen, R. (1998). Becoming attached. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN-10: 0195115015, $21.95

Kilpatrick, A. C., & Holland, T. P. (1999).  Working with families: An integrative model by level of need  (2nd ed.).  Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. ISBN: 0205273076

Lee, C., & Balswick, J. O. (1989).  Life in a glass house.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

ISBN-10: 0310287502

McKenry, P. C., & Price, S. J. (Eds.). (2000).  Families and change: Coping with stressful events and transitions.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ISBN-10: 0761919724, $119.00

Titelman, P. (Ed.). (2003). Emotional cutoff: Bowen Family Systems Theory perspectives. New York, NY: Haworth. ISBN-10: 0789014599, $95.00

Walsh, F. (Ed.). (2002).  Normal family processes (3rd ed.).  New York, NY: Guilford. ISBN-10: 1572308168, $75.00

White, M. (2007). Maps of narrative practice. New York, NY: Norton. ISBN-10: 0393705161, $26.95



Take-home midterm / final exams.



None: open to all students.



1.     Required for all students in the MSMFT program; elective otherwise.

2.     Meets BPC Sections 4980.36(c)(1)(B); 4980.36(d)(2)(B); 4980.36(d)(2)(G) for the State of CA.

3.     Meets AAMFT core competency domains 1.1, 4.1.



Yes; multiple format.