General Course Information for PSY617A: Family Systems

Course: PSY617A - Family Systems
Textbook: For the correct edition of the textbook assigned to a specific class, go to:

Course Description: Part one of a two-part sequence. A comprehensive examination of the family as a social institution and how it shapes the course of human development. The student is exposed to models and systems of family development, the multifaceted dynamics of intrafamily relationships, and interactions of the family with various elements of the sociocultural environment. Attention is also focused on family interaction patterns, including communication processes, power relationships, open and closed family systems, parent-child relationships, and conflict resolution processes.
Course Learning Outcomes:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of family systems conceptualization of problems and approaches to therapy.
  • Articulate how various systems approaches conceptualize problems.
  • Articulate the historical development general systems theory.
  • Outline the contributions of major personalities within the field (both historical and current).
  • Demonstrate knowledge of family life cycle as it applies to family dynamics and presenting problem.
  • Articulate psychopathology from a systems perspective.
  • Demonstrate ability to analyze family interactions systemically, the interaction between family system problems and strengths and individual family members' problems and strengths, and the role of the family in helping family members with developmental, acute, and chronic problems
  • Demonstrate ability to think critically about the implications of these theories for assessing and working with vulnerable populations
  • Construct family genograms for their own families as well as families of multiple case presentations.
Specified Program Learning Outcomes:
  • Specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy(Nevada)
    • Apply clinical theory, research, and related literature within the field of Marriage and Family Therapy.
    • Apply professional ethics, values, and relevant laws and legal codes to the professional roles and systems related to the practice of Marriage and Family Therapy.
    • Critically evaluate and assess various models of psychotherapy and execute psychotherapeutic interventions within diverse relationships.
    • Develop strategies and detailed plans for successful and ethical psychotherapeutic interventions with diverse client groups in various clinical contexts, including crisis intervention and case management assessment.
    • Diagnose and assess categories of mental distress, psychopathology, and problems in living in diverse individuals, couples, families, and systems according to the current diagnostic systems.
    • Establish professional relationships with diverse clients that provide the necessary conditions for therapeutic change.
    • Integrate professional and personal development through self-reflection and introspective awareness.

Students with Disabilities:
Students seeking special accommodations due to a disability must submit an application with supporting documentation, as explained under this subject heading in the General Catalog. Instructors are required to provide such accommodations if they receive written notification from the University.

Writing Across the Curriculum:
Students are expected to demonstrate writing skills in describing, analyzing and evaluating ideas and experiences. Written reports and research papers must follow specific standards regarding citations of an author's work within the text and references at the end of the paper. Students are encouraged to use the services of the University's Writing Center when preparing materials.

The following website provides information on APA, MLA, and other writing and citation styles that may be required for term papers and the like:

National University Library:
National University Library supports academic rigor and student academic success by providing access to scholarly books and journals both electronically and in hard copy. Print materials may be accessed at the Library in San Diego or through document delivery for online and regional students. Librarians are available to provide training, reference assistance, and mentoring at the San Diego Library and virtually for online or regional students. Please take advantage of Library resources:


Contact the Library:

  • (858) 541-7900 (direct line)
  • 1-866-NU ACCESS x7900 (toll free)

Use the Library Training Tools (on the Library Homepage) for additional help

  • Recorded class presentations
  • Tutorials & Guides (APA/MLA, Peer-Review, and more)

Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else's ideas or work as one's own. Students must give credit for any information that is not either the result of original research or common knowledge. If a student borrows ideas or information from another author, he/she must acknowledge the author in the body of the text and on the reference page. Students found plagiarizing are subject to the penalties outlined in the Policies and Procedures section of the University Catalog, which may include a failing grade for the work in question or for the entire course. The following is one of many websites that provide helpful information concerning plagiarism for both students and faculty:

Ethical behavior in the classroom is required of every student. The course will identify ethical policies and practices relevant to course topics.

Students are expected to be competent in using current technology appropriate for this discipline. Such technology may include word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Use of the internet and e-mail may also be required.

Learning to work with and value diversity is essential in every class. Students are expected to exhibit an appreciation for multinational and gender diversity in the classroom.

As a diverse community of learners, students must strive to work together in a setting of civility, tolerance, and respect for each other and for the instructor. Rules of classroom behavior (which apply to online as well as onsite courses) include but are not limited to the following:

  • Conflicting opinions among members of a class are to be respected and responded to in a professional manner.
  • Side conversations or other distracting behaviors are not to be engaged in during lectures, class discussions or presentations
  • There are to be no offensive comments, language, or gestures