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Course Description

A mother and two young children sitting outside and smiling

The landscape of families has become increasingly complex due to factors such as globalization, longer lifespans, and shifting family norms and structures. This course will utilize a systemic approach while exploring families making transitions. It will focus on various types of family transitions including separation and divorce, remarriage, blended family and other forms of parenting, illness, death and loss and domestic violence, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and multi-generational families. Attention will also be given to some transitions that have either been marginalized, or which have become increasingly relevant to diverse, multicultural populations. These include transitions related to gender and sexuality, migration and refugee experiences, and military service.

The focus will be on both the impact of these transitions on family relationships, as well as the therapeutic implications for working with such changing family systems. The goal of this course is to increase understanding of the systemic dynamics of families in transition and strengthen clinical skill in working with families who are engaged in these transitions. An appreciation for inclusivity and contextual thinking will assist students in utilizing various systemic therapeutic approaches in an integrated framework for working with transitions faced by couples and families.

This course is typically recognized by AAMFT as a therapy or studies course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Communicate a clinical understanding of situations involving couples and families who are experiencing various types of transitions
  • Apply therapeutic approach(es) to working with couples and families who are experiencing various forms of transitions
  • Demonstrate an ability to work therapeutically with various forms of couple and family transitions and with a diverse clientele
  • Recognize ways in which individual and family differences, as well as contextual factors, may intersect with clients’ experiences of transitions and the relevance of these intersections to the practice of therapy

Course Topics

  • Theoretical Perspectives
  • Positioning Ourselves to Respond Appropriately to Family Transitions
  • Separation and Divorce
  • Co-parenting
  • Remarriage, Step Parenting and Blended Families
  • Single Parenting
  • Adoption
  • Foster Parenting
  • Domestic Violence
  • Death and Loss
  • Illness
  • Sexuality
  • Other Family Transitions
  • Grand-parenting and Multigenerational Families
  • Resilience


Assessment Item Weight
Class Attendance and Participation 20%
Case Presentation (Group) 20%
Exploring Your Family Transitions 25%
Major Paper 35%
Total 100%

Please note that the course assessment is subject to change.

Sponsoring Partner

Applies Towards the Following Certificates

*Course details are subject to change.


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