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Class Descriptions

Advanced Evidence-Informed Interpersonal Practice with Families


Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials Required

Pathway Associations

Community Change
Interpersonal PracticeRequirement (Host)
Mgmt & Leadership
Policy & Political
Program Evaluation
Older AdultsElective
Children & FamiliesElective

Course Description

This advanced practice course builds on content from the previous foundational course(s) and focuses on family functioning within diverse client populations. The focus of this course is on the development and utilization of family-focused skills and interventions with diverse families in the context of a variety of practice settings such as healthcare, mental health, and other community-based settings.

To inform practice interventions, this course will be grounded in the integration of various current family theories (i.e. attachment theory, general systems theory, communication theory, social construction theory and developmental theory, etc) as well as an overarching neurological perspective. Broad definitions of "family" will be used, including extended families, unmarried couples, single parent families, couples across gender identity and sexual orientation spectrums, adult siblings, "fictive kin," and other inclusive definitions. The development of clinical skills for engaging, assessing, and intervening with families will be the primary focus of this course.

Focused attention on primary models of family theory and practice will inform intervention techniques and skills taught in the course (i.e. Bowen Family Systems Theory, Satir Transformational Systemic Therapy and addition approach(s) informed by identified theories). This course will address stages of the helping process with families (i.e. engagement, assessment, planning, evaluation, intervention, and termination). During these stages, client-worker differences will be taken into account including a range of diversity dimensions such as ability, age, class, color, culture, ethnicity, family structure, immigration status, gender (including gender identity and gender expression), marital status, national origin, race, religion or spirituality and sexual orientation. Various theoretical approaches will be presented in order to help students understand family structure, communication patterns, and behavioral and coping repertoires. The family will also be studied as part of larger social systems, as having its own life cycles, and as influencing multiple generations.


Apply family assessment frameworks in a way that is ecological, family-centered, and takes into account individual and family needs, problems and experiences within the family, and resources, opportunities, and oppressive forces of the social environment. (EPAS 7)
Model appropriate clinical engagement with family resources, strength, challenges and risks across diverse populations including those based on a range of diversity dimensions such as ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and class. (EPAS 2)
Apply principles of NASW code of ethics to relationships and service delivery with family members across a range of diversity dimensions. (EPAS 2, 6, 7)
Develop intervention plans based on models and techniques that are appropriate to specific assessment materials (e.g. IPV, SUD, etc.). (EPAS 8)
Engage in clinical decision-making that considers families who are experiencing mental health diagnoses from the DSM-5. (EPAS 7)
Demonstrate relevant models of prevention and intervention and utilize them to address common challenges faced by families. (EPAS 8)
Evaluate the impact of one's own experience and values on the use of self in clinical process with families to ensure continuous improvement of service. (EPAS 9)
Evaluate the effects of family-centered interventions using appropriate outcome measures. (EPAS 9)


This advanced practice course will focus on utilization of a flipped classroom approach in which students complete pre-work (assigned theoretical and practice reading, exposure to the actual experiences of families through media as case materials, videotapes, etc.) with in-class time used for limited didactic lecture and primarily focus on students actively developing and practicing intervention skills and techniques for use with families.

Active engagement in a variety of in-class activities, role plays, observation and critical analysis of various interventions, matching interventions to various populations and client needs and constructive peer feedback is critical to the skill development focus of this course.

Intensive Focus on Privilege, Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice (PODS)

This course integrates PODS content and skills with a special emphasis on the identification of theories, practice and/or policies that promote social justice, illuminate injustices and are consistent with scientific and professional knowledge. Through the use of a variety of instructional methods, this course will support students developing a vision of social justice, learn to recognize and reduce mechanisms that support oppression and injustice, work toward social justice processes, apply intersectionality and intercultural frameworks and strengthen critical consciousness, self-knowledge and self-awareness to facilitate PODS learning.

Attention will be given to acknowledgment and assessment of the unique characteristics of families of various diversity dimensions (e.g., ability, age, class, color, culture, ethnicity, family structure, gender (including gender identity and gender expression, marital status, national origin, immigration status, race, religion or spirituality, and sexual orientation), and by tailoring engagement, assessment, goal setting, planning, and intervention to these characteristics. Assessment procedures will focus on strengths rather than deficits in family functioning. Ethical dilemmas unique to family work will be presented, such as balancing individual and family goals, contracts regarding confidentiality and record-keeping, and addressing oppressive family structures. Addressing value conflicts that exist toward families in society will be explored to raise the students' awareness of personal and professional values.

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