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Course Description

Family Therapists have finally found a place at the table of regulated healthcare. This puts us more directly into dialogue with medical mental health practitioners. These clinicians speak their own language, a derivation of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases, known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The purpose of this course is to familiarize you with the DSM-5 and its language for the major disorders of thinking (schizophrenia), feeling (anxiety, depression, bipolar) and behaving (personality). The impact of mental illness on family functioning and the current literature regarding effective couple and family approaches to treating these mental health problems will be explored.

Here you will see integration of couple and family therapy approaches with individual psychodynamic, psychiatric and biomedical approaches. Psychotropic medications, often an adjunct treatment to these particular problems, will be examined. The instructor will facilitate the course with slides, didactic presentations, video, and experiential exercises. Participants will actively engage in the material with their own didactic presentations, small group work, self-directed study, and written assignments.

This course is typically recognized by AAMFT as a Therapy course.

Designed For

Counsellors, therapists, social workers, mental health workers, pastoral care / faith-based, and other practitioners seeking to build or enhance their practical skills and theoretical foundation in couple and family therapy, as well as those exploring therapy as a career.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Use the DSM-5 to look up any diagnosis and obtain a list of symptoms and behaviours associated with it, and describe the general process of mental health diagnosis
  2. Understand the effect of mental illness on family and individual lifecycle development, roles, and family functioning
  3. Demonstrate familiarity with the current literature on effective family interventions for mental illness, and be able to maintain professional development in this field
  4. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of psychotropic medications and support their use as an adjunct to therapy with clients with mental illness
  5. Develop a practice model which integrates an awareness of mental illness with couple and family therapy

Course Topics

The following key topics are addressed during the course:

  • Day 1: Introduction; Models for Understanding the Impact of Mental Illness; Introduction to the DSM-5; Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders
  • Day 2: Depressive Disorders; Anxiety
  • Day 3: Bipolar Disorder, Addictions & Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Day 4: Personality Disorders
  • Day 5: Eating Disorder, Trauma, and other Diagnoses

Additional Requirements

Pre-requisite course: Theories & Methods of Family Therapy: Foundations of the Field

Note: If you wish to take the course but have not completed the pre-requisite, please contact Beverley Fretz, Manager, Program Development at bfretz@uoguelph.ca.


Assessment Item Weight
Group Presentation 30%
Quiz 10%
Major Paper 60%
Total 100%


The course is offered jointly by the Ontario Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (OAMFT) and the University of Guelph, Open Learning and Educational Support (OpenEd).

Applies Towards the Following Certificates

*Course details are subject to change.


Thank you for your interest in this course. Unfortunately, the course you have selected is currently not open for enrolment. Please complete a Course Inquiry so that we may promptly notify you when enrolment opens.

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