Courses & Curriculum

The Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy Program is a full-time program. Northwestern University (NU) operates on the quarter system, so new students join the program for the fall quarter. They arrive two weeks early and begin their orientation to the academic, clinical, and administrative requirements and procedures of the Program. They move through the Program as a cohort.

Over a two-year period, students are required to complete 25 courses in Marriage and Family Therapy (19 academic courses and 6 internship courses).

First year courses are held on Wednesday AM and Thursday. Second year courses are held on Wednesday AM and Friday. Group supervision takes place on Wednesday PM for both years. Individual supervision is arranged between supervisor and student.
The program is structured so that 1st year students complete a Pre-Practicum course (while also enrolled in Basic Concepts of Systems Therapy, Systemic Assessment and Family Therapy Treatment Models) during their first quarter and begin seeing cases under intensive supervision sometime in November. Students continue with coursework and clinical training throughout the first year, into the summer and on to the end of May in their second year. Throughout the two-year Program, careful attention is paid to the development of professional identity as a Marriage and Family Therapist. The descriptions, sequencing and schedule of courses are listed below.

The sequencing of courses in the curriculum is based on six developmental principles that are conceived as roughly sequential and progressive in nature:

1. Providing a foundational knowledge base and an orientation to a systemic, integrative and empirically informed approach to MFT practice.

2. Preparing students to begin therapy early in their training (learning while doing).

3. Expanding knowledge of methods, models and modalities that can be integrated into practice while increasing cultural sensitivity.

4. Expanding caseloads as students deepen their understanding of the role of research in a scientific practitioner's work.

5. Deepening understanding of human development and psychodynamic issues in clinical practice.

6. Learning more about working with a variety of presenting concerns and exploring particular clinical interests.

7. In Winter and Spring of their 2nd year, students work intensively on their capstone which involves to synthesizing and applying what they have learned in the program. This project requires integration and consolidation of their learning consistent with the program’s missions, goals, and outcomes.

 

Schedule of Courses


Fall I

 
MSFT 401-0 Basic Concepts of Systems Therapy
Instructor: Russell

This course is an introduction to the central theoretical underpinnings of systemic family therapy, providing a basic framework for assessment and intervention in family problems. Particular attention is paid to the assumptions basic to a systemic perspective.

MSFT 421-0 Systemic Assessment
Instructor: Black

Students will learn how to define the parameters of systemic assessment and how it differs from, and can be integrated with, individual assessment. Students will learn how systemic assessment operates within the current legal and medical context. Students will learn the DSM-IV diagnostic system and how to apply it systematically. Students will learn specific models and measures of systemic assessment, including formal family assessment measures.

MSFT 480-0 Pre Practicum in Marriage and Family Therapy
Instructor: Goldstein & Kinsman

The purpose of this course is to train the beginning family therapy student in the practical aspects of doing systemic therapy. The course presumes no background as a therapist, and aims to provide skills in conducting interviews with individuals as well as couples and families, making initial assessments, and learning to manage a professional practice. In addition, the course will focus on the role of personal values, beliefs, and interpersonal style in the work of psychotherapy. Students will be encouraged to examine the ways in which their own family background has shaped their perspective, and how to make use of personal experience in their work as a professional marital and family therapist.

MSFT 436-0 Family Therapy Treatment Models
Instructor: Dwyer

This course will explore the various approaches to family therapy as they are actually practiced. Important trends and controversies in the field will be examined, including the influence of race, culture, ethnicity and gender in the assessment and treatment processes. Finally, approaches will be measured against each other. Treatment Models is a foundation course offered concurrently with the clinical internship. It stresses the progressive integration of class and practice experiences.


Winter I

 

MSFT 402-0 Methods of Systems Therapy
Instructor: Breunlin

This course introduces students to a range of methods used in systems therapy. The methods will be drawn from the integrative traditions emphasized in The Family Institute Model and will prepare students to engage, work with and terminate cases.

MSFT 428-0 Legal, Ethical and Professional Issues in Marriage and Family Therapy
Instructor: Torres-Gregory

The objectives of this course are (1) competence in handling the most significant legal issues relevant to the practice of marriage and family therapy, including confidentiality, dangerousness, malpractice, and expert testimony; (2) heightened awareness of the requirements for ethical practice, including an understanding of how your own values will impact your work; and (3) development of a professional identity as a family therapist, and an understanding of how to keep that identity current.

MSFT 411-0 Intimate Relations I
Instructor: Solomon

This course will elaborate on The Family Institute Model for working with couples, which involves great affective intensity and subtlety of communication. The most common problems that couples present, such as intense conflict, depression, sexual difficulties, separation and divorce, will be addressed.

MSFT 481-0 Internship in Marriage and Family Therapy
Instructor: Goldstein

Students begin the clinical internship in the winter quarter of the first year in the program. They do 10-15 hours/week under the supervision of clinical supervising faculty. Clinical faculty provide group and individual supervision on a weekly basis through case discussion as well as direct observation and videotape/audiotape recordings of students' therapy sessions. University regulations require that all students doing internship be registered. Students earn a total of three (3) units of credit for this series


Spring I

 

MSFT 403-0 Self and Systems: Theory and Interventions
Instructor: Burgoyne

This course's purpose is to deepen students' understanding of self and systems. Particular emphasis will be given to aspects of self-development and the therapist's understanding of self when working with systems.

MSFT 430-0 Power, Privilege, & Difference: Practicing cultural curiosity and humility in a multicultural world
Instructor: Hampton

Effective community-based work requires a focus on strengths and a valuing of diverse perspectives and talents. The course will review strategies for understanding how culture and context influence the therapeutic alliance individual functioning, how to gather information regarding context and how to use this information to intervene with diverse clients and settings. This course covers the implementation of The Family Institute model with under resourced clients and community settings.

MSFT 422-0 Family Research
Instructors: He

The aim of this course is to help students become critical consumers of research. That is, by the end of the course, you should become more comfortable picking up a journal like JMFT, critically reading it and being able to evaluate whether or not you should incorporate the research into your practice. Thus, this course will walk you through the various elements of reading a journal article and will have activities aimed at demonstrating your critical thinking skills. Finally, as this course aims to be as useful as possible, it will also help you to develop and embrace an identity as an expert in your specialty area. This includes a secondary goal of improving your presentation skills by using research to sell your practice.

MSFT 481-0 Internship in Marriage and Family Therapy
Instructor: Goldstein

*Please see 481 in Winter I


Summer I

 

MSFT 424-0 Group Therapy
Instructor: Klow

This course is comprised of three components: a didactic, an experiential, and a clinical part. Its overall purpose is to facilitate effective group work. The didactic component familiarizes students with the theoretical underpinnings of group therapy and assists them in developing a consistent framework for their group work. Participating in a group experience deepens understanding of the workings of a group. Both of these components prepare students for actually conducting a group. Students will be assigned to co-lead a group with Institute faculty or paired with another student to begin a new group. The clinical component will also address the more practical, business aspect of setting up and marketing a group.

MSFT 437-0 Working with Children in the Context of the Family
Instructor: Buckley Hauser

This course is designed for the student-clinician who has had a fundamental background in developmental psychology and human development. This course will provide theoretical and practical knowledge in working clinically with children individually and in the contexts of their families. A systemic framework will be employed as the basis for developing assessments and therapeutic objectives. Specific clinical issues will be covered, such as abuse, divorce, and mood disorders, with the focus on assessment and interventions.

MSFT 481-0 Internship in Marriage and Family Therapy
Instructor: Goldstein

*Please see 481 in Winter I


Fall II

 

MSFT 410-0 Human Development
Instructor: Peterson

This course utilizes a developmental framework to understand individual human functioning across the life span and the dynamic interactions of individuals within families. Physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development will be presented at each age level, including issues regarding culture, gender and sexual orientation. Commonly presented problems and therapeutic interventions will be discussed for each age group.

MSFT 413-0 Intimate Relations II
Instructor: Rampage

Intimate Relations Part II builds off of Intimate Relations in order to increase therapists’ competence with helping couples gain, re-discover, and/or maintain intimacy within their relationship. The course brings in cutting edge interventions and theory from the scientific study of relationships and offers students the opportunity to learn from the best of the best in the field of couple’s therapy including a series of lectures by William Pinsof, Cheryl Rampage, Mona Fishbane, and Doug Breunlin amongst a slew of other experts in this field. As an advanced course, second year students are encouraged to draw from the expertise of lecturers in this class to begin to form and identify their own expertise as emerging couples therapists.

MSFT 482-0 Advanced Internship in Marriage and Family Therapy
Instructor: Taussig

In their second year, students continue their supervised clinical training in the Advanced Internship with a deeper emphasis on the model in couple and family work, as well as developmental self-of-the-therapist issues. Newly assigned clinical faculty provide group and individual supervision on a weekly basis. Focus remains on clinical cases, direct observation and videotape/audiotape recordings of students' therapy sessions. University regulations require that all students doing internship be registered. Students earn a total of three (3) units of credit for this series of Advanced Internship in MFT. Additional units may be required to meet the program's clinical requirements and to comply with clinical competency standards.


Winter II

 

MSFT 427-0 Family of Origin: Systemic Perspectives on Risk and Resilience
Instructor: Burgoyne

Course objectives are (1) to familiarize students with a systemic perspective on the development of intrapsychic structure and function; and (2) to expose students to therapeutic approaches for individuals, couples, and families that emanate from this perspective, including family of origin and transgenerational approaches.

MSFT 440-0 Systemic Perspectives in the Treatment for Chemical Dependency and Substance Abuse
Instructor: Dwyer

This course will examine disease model as well as systemic conceptions of addiction and treatment. Developing a working understanding of the strengths of both models of abuse and addiction is emphasized. A variety of therapeutic approaches will be reviewed with specific attention to strategies of motivational interviewing and stages of change in clinical practice. A review of outcome research is highlighted demonstrating the efficacy of family therapy approaches. Specific attention to issues of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, and other critical historic, socio-cultural contexts and influences in the problems of addiction are appreciatively considered and viewed as essential to any effective approach to treatment.

MSFT 495-0 Capstone Project
Instructor: TBD

Beginning with the class entering the program in Fall of 2016, program requirements will include a Capstone Project, which satisfies a key requirement of our accrediting body, the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). A Capstone project demonstrates that students have integrated and consolidated their learning in a manner consistent with the program’s mission, goals and outcomes. The MSMFT Capstone involves the completion of a case study process, a case presentation, and a paper that demonstrate the student’s acquisition of clinical competence, as well as the ability to integrate relevant knowledge and skill within the framework of Integrative Systemic Therapy (IST, formerly known as Integrative Problem Centered Metaframeworks), and apply this integration to their clinical work. The project demonstrates the student’s ability to accomplish systemic integration in their practice and, thereby, their readiness to continue their professional growth through the integration of new learnings.

MSFT 482-0 Advanced Internship in Marriage and Family Therapy
Instructor: Taussig

*Please see 482 in Fall II


Spring II

 

MSFT 412-0 Special Problems and Populations
Instructor: Breunlin

This course provides concepts and skills necessary for working with particular kinds of clients and problems. Unique challenges and special considerations exist when working with families suffering from particularly challenging problems, such as addictions, violence (both sexual and physical), poverty, divorce/remarriage and illness.

429 Sex Therapy
Instructor: McComb

A multidimensional, biophysical approach to the diagnosis and treatment of sexual difficulty in individuals and couples. Sexual problems discussed include disorders of desire, aversion, arousal, orgasm, and pain.

MSFT 495-0 Capstone Project
Instructor: TBD

Beginning with the class entering the program in Fall of 2016, program requirements will include a Capstone Project, which satisfies a key requirement of our accrediting body, the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). A Capstone project demonstrates that students have integrated and consolidated their learning in a manner consistent with the program’s mission, goals and outcomes. The MSMFT Capstone involves the completion of a case study process, a case presentation, and a paper that demonstrate the student’s acquisition of clinical competence, as well as the ability to integrate relevant knowledge and skill within the framework of Integrative Systemic Therapy (IST, formerly known as Integrative Problem Centered Metaframeworks), and apply this integration to their clinical work. The project demonstrates the student’s ability to accomplish systemic integration in their practice and, thereby, their readiness to continue their professional growth through the integration of new learnings.

MSFT 482-0 Advanced Internship in Marriage and Family Therapy
Instructor: Taussig

*Please see 482 in Fall II

Elective - See Below


MSMFT Program Electives

 

COAMFTE accreditation requirements largely dictate the curriculum and demand the full slate of courses described above; consequently, there are no formal electives offered. The university, however, does allow students to enroll in up to four courses without paying additional tuition. Students may, therefore, opt to take an elective in any quarter where there are 3 courses (including internship). Note that registration for an elective requires the approval of the Department and the course instructor.

Examples of electives students have taken:

403-310 Anthropology Evolution and Culture
623-388 Comm. Sci. & Disorders Attention Deficit Disorder
622-443-1,2 Comm. Sci. & Disorders Clinical Theory and Practice in Assessment and Early Intervention
622-342-28 Comm. Sci. & Disorders Typical and Atypical Development in Infants and Toddlers
453 Counseling Psychology Treatment of Trauma
230-414 Counseling Psychology Psychology of Adult Development: Theory and Research
451-314-26 Psychology The Self
451-314-68 Psychology Special Topics in Psychology: The Psychology of Terrorism
471-308-26 Sociology Sociology of Deviance and Crime
630-434-26 Theatre Introduction to Storytelling

The Family Institute at Northwestern University reserves the right to modify this curriculum, including courses offered, time of offering and instructors.