Effective: Late Spring 8-Week, 2018/2019

HUMS 340: Working With Families

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  Course Description

Examination of family function and assessment using the major models, theories, and perspectives of family and family therapy. Students will learn how to apply those theories and perspectives to assess families in conjunction with other assessment tools such as ecomaps and genograms.

Prerequisite: HUMS 105 or PSYC 101 (courses may be taken as co-requisites)

Proctored Exams: None



  • Kilpatrick, A. & Holland, T. (2009). Working with Families: An Integrative Model by Level of Need (5th edition). Boston: Pearson Publishing.  
    • [ISBN-ISBN-978-0-205-67392-6]

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

This course will focus on working with families in the roles of case management and family psychotherapy.  You will be introduced to several types of family theories and several treatment models commonly used in family therapy today, many of which are indicated by a given family’s level of need.   The therapeutic relationship between client and professional and what part it plays in therapy outcomes will also be explored in depth.

Topics to be studied include:

  • The four levels of family need:
    • Basic survival
    • Family structure, limits, and safety
    • Family boundaries and control
    • Family and personal growth
  • Family dynamics, lifestyles, diversities, and commonalities
  • Ethically-informed and spiritually-sensitive practice
  • The family in the community

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Objectives

  • To explore, analyze and compare family theory and theories of intervention.
  • To demonstrate the proper use of tools for assessment of family functioning and dynamics (such as ecomaps and genograms).

  Measurable Learning Outcomes

  • Create and interpret a three‐generation genogram.
  • Create and interpret an ecomap.
  • Describe the professional issues and ethics related to working with families.
  • Explain the major theories and perspectives of family and properly apply family theories of intervention.
  • Be able to work with and understand client families, using the tools and theories developed in the class.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 900-1000 90-100%
B 800-899 80-89%
C 700-799 70-79%
D 600-699 60-69%
F 0-599 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Annotated Bibliography 50 5%
Discussions (13) 182 18%
Ecomap 100 10%
Genogram 100 10%
Midterm Exam 150 15%
Peer Review 18 2%
Term Paper 250 25%
Final Exam 150 15%
Total 1000 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 1 14 Wednesday
Discussion 2 14 Saturday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 14 Wednesday
Discussion 4 14 Saturday

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 14 Wednesday
Ecomap 100 Saturday
Term Paper Topic Choice --

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 6 14 Wednesday
Genogram 100 Saturday
Midterm Exam 150

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 14 Wednesday
Discussion 8 14 Saturday
Article Review 50

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 14 Wednesday
Discussion 10 14 Saturday
Peer Review 18 Wednesday/Saturday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11 14 Wednesday
Term Paper 250 Saturday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 12 14 Wednesday
Discussion 13 14 Saturday
Final Exam 150
Total Points: 1000

  Assignment Overview


Each discussion assignment requires three posts: one original post and two peer responses. You should focus on completing one discussion before moving onto the next. You will not be able to see other student's discussions until you post yours. The first discussion of the week is due on Wednesday; the second discussion of the week is due on Saturday.


You will construct an ecomap of a fictional family using freehand drawing (no computer programs allowed). You will then submit an image of your ecomap, along with a narrative to the dropbox. See the content area of the course for examples and a tutorial for this project. Due Saturday of Week 3.


You will construct a detailed 3-generation genogram based on the guidelines provided in the content area of the course. The genogram must be drawn freehand (no computer programs allowed). Submit an image of your genogram and a response to the provided questions to the dropbox. Due Saturday of Week 4.

Article Review

You will use the Columbia College library databases to locate a peer-reviewed journal article on a topic related to your term paper. You will then write a review of the journal article, following the guidelines in the course. Proper APA style is required. Due Saturday of Week 5.

Term Paper

On the topic of “The therapeutic alliance in family therapy,” write a paper in APA format, including a reference page, title page and abstract. The body of the paper should be 3-5 pages – this does not include the title page, abstract, or reference page. Papers should be double-spaced with 12-point font and should be submitted as a Word document. You will utilize your text, as well as choose at least one peer-reviewed journal article (full text available) from the Stafford Library or other resources. You will need to paraphrase your sources to demonstrate your understanding of the material and cite sources properly. Papers with lengthy direct quotations may be dropped a letter grade. Work completed in a previous course, in whole or in part, will not be accepted and will be considered plagiarism; the only exception to that might be the use of material previously compiled for this course/assignment, this course having been taken in a previous session. Organization of the paper, as well as grammar, spelling and punctuation will also be considered in grading.

Paper Components:

  • Topic Choice (Week 3)
  • Annotated Bibliography (Week 5)
  • Draft of Paper for Peer Feedback (Week 6)
  • Final Draft of Paper (Week 7)


You will have a midterm and final exam in this course. Neither exam requires a proctor. Each exam will consist of 50 multiple choice and/or true-false questions. There will be a 60 minute time limit on each exam. The midterm is due Saturday of Week 4, while the final is due Saturday of Week 8.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Chapters 1 and 2
Discussion 1
Introduce yourself.   Include the following:  your current profession, a brief description of your family, your hobbies/interests, your work experience relevant to the Human Services field, and your goals for this course.  (Original post and two peer responses required.)
Discussion 2
Using the concepts outlined by the social constructionist approach, prepare a narrative (1000 words or fewer) about your life or an important episode in your life. (Original post and two peer responses required.)
Chapters 3 and 4
Discussion 3
How did the addition of the concept “alliance” alter the previous understanding of the helping relationship?  Compare the two relationships and offer your response to which you believe to be the better approach and why.   (Original post and two peer responses required.)
Discussion 4
In what ways can you work effectively with clients who present spiritual ideas that are different from, or even conflicting with, your own?  Answer this question both from the standpoint of the text and your personal view.  (Original post and two peer responses required.)
Chapter 5
Discussion 5
You are faced with a decision to remove a child from an abusive/neglectful home.  Describe how you would arrive at a decision that carefully considers the conflicting factors of family preservation and child safety.  Explain/support your position. (Original post and two peer responses required.)
For more information on this assignment, see the detailed guidelines in the content area of the course.
Term Paper Topic Choice
Submit your topic choice for the term paper to the appropriate discussion topic. No peer responses are required.
Chapter 6
Discussion 6
If you were required to file a child abuse report regarding a family you've developed a trusting relationship with, what steps might you take to repair and maintain that trust after the family is advised of the report? (Original post and two peer responses required.)
For more information on this assignment, see the detailed guidelines in the content area of this course.
Midterm Exam
Covers chapters 1-6 of the textbook. Not proctored.
Chapters 7 and 8
Discussion 7
List the seven principles of intervention that form the foundation of structural family therapy.  And for each principle, describe a family profile (behaviors, relationship dynamics, presenting problem, etc.) that could apply to each.  (Original post and two peer responses required.)
Discussion 8
The authors of your textbook address the softer clinical skills necessary to be effective with families.  Evaluate the importance of clinicians using their relationship skills within the family therapy field, which is traditionally technique and intervention-oriented. (Original post and two peer responses required.)
Article Review
For more information on this assignment, see the content area of this course.
Chapters 9 and 10
Discussion 9
In the context of the solution-focused approach, describe/assess several observable indicators that would cue you that the family is nearing a level of success, such that termination of therapy may be considered. (Original post and two peer responses required.)
Discussion 10
Consider a case of family divorce, in which the presenting problem is the adolescent female child’s disengagement from the parent who left the household.  Using family systems theory, outline at least two intervention approaches you would use, along with your rationale. (Original post and two peer responses required.)
Peer Review
Post a working draft of your term paper to the appropriate Discussion topic no later than Wednesday. Read and respond to a draft of two of your peers’ papers by Saturday. If possible, do not chose a paper that has already been commented on. Your points on this assignment are based on the feedback provided and not for the draft of the paper. Further information on how to complete peer review is available in the Week 6 Content area.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Chapter 11
Discussion 11
What roles do letters and celebrations play in narrative therapy?  What do you think is the best feature of reflecting teams and why?  (Original post and two peer responses required.)
Term Paper
For more information on this assignment, see the content area of this course.
Chapters 12 and 13
Discussion 12
In your own words, describe the processes of introjection, projective identification, and collusion.   Include your assessment of when (in time) they occur, if they are conscious or unconscious processes, and how some may manifest in the adult years. (Original post and two peer responses required.)
Discussion 13
What barriers can hamper family practitioners in intervening/advocating in the community on behalf of their clients?  Provide answers that would apply to advocacy on both the macro (community) and micro (client-specific) levels. (Original post and two peer responses required.)
Final Exam
Covers chapters 7-13 of the textbook. Not proctored.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted. No late assignments of any kind will be accepted without extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the student and with instructor notification prior to the due date (Columbia College Catalog).

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.