MFT Course Descriptions

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The following is a list of Marriage and Family Therapy course descriptions from the 2012-13 Wheaton College Catalog: (Italic descriptions below the course are from Students' perspectives)


MAFT 618 - Family Therapy Research and Implications for Evidence-Based Practice. An overview of research methodology, data analysis, and the evaluation of research in couple and family therapy and how research informs MFT common factors and evidence-based practice (3)

MAFT 624 - MFT Ethics and Professional Practice. Provides an overview of ethical issues related to the profession and practice of MFT including the AAMFT Code of Ethics, professional identity, professional organizations, and licensure. (3)

This course challenged our Christian "values" as we learned about ethical constraints and duties of a marriage and family therapist. We were able to discuss many possible unethical situations, or situations where ethical decisions would be difficult to make. It was helpful to learn from the professor's experiences with clients and interact with the different situations presented in the text.

MAFT 631 - Individual and Family Life Cycle Development. The study of individual and family development across the lifespan, exploring continuity and change within the developing individual and family.(3)

After taking several development courses in undergrad and now this course, I realize there is still so much about development that can be learned. This class was especially helpful in thinking about development from a therapeutic perspective: how development of children or adolescents within the family system influences interactions within the system, how stressful events during the normal transition phases of family life often lead families to seek out the help of an MFT, and how behaviors can be "normalized" when looking at them from a developmental standpoint for a family can bring them peace of mind that maybe their child isn't "out of control." This course provided a wonderful foundation for how to view families from a systemic and contextual framework.

MAFT 633 - Couple Therapy: Systemic Assessment and Intervention. An overview of theoretical models and skills necessary for effective treatment of couple relationship and sexual functioning. (3)

The wide variety of topics discussed in this course brought our cohort closer together and helped us be more comfortable with ourselves and each other. Therapy is a place to "speak the unspeakable" in order to break down barriers that keep the family or the couple from moving forward, and this class taught me how to say uncomfortable and difficult things with great love and sensitivity--not only to future clients, but to myself as well.

MAFT 634 - Marriage and Family Therapy I: Theoretical Foundations. An introduction to historical development, theoretical and empirical foundations of systems theory including a survey of the major models of marriage, couple, and family therapy and an overview of contemporary conceptual directions. (3)

MAFT 635 - Marriage and Family Therapy II: Systemic Assessment and Intervention. An application of relational/systems theory to a variety of presenting clinical problems including but not limited to physical health and illness, major mental health issues, traditional psycho-diagnostic categories, addictions, and couple and family problems. Prerequisite: MAFT 634, PSYC 636 or PSYC 738 (3)

Learning about the history of marriage and family therapy and seeing how different theories have developed over the course of its existence has helped me put a lot of different tools into mental storage. I loved learning about the theorists and how they came to see their own theories panning out before their own eyes. This course definitely helped me become a more critical thinker in regards to how therapy techniques overlap and the meaning behind different interventions--leading to the recognition of common factors and the influence myself as the therapist has on the therapy relationship.

MAFT 637 - Families in Context: Culture, Class, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexual identity & Religion. An overview of the impact of diversity, power, and privilege as related to culture, class, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, and religion in families and the influence of context on couple and family treatment.(3)

Having little prior knowledge on different cultures and how cultural values and norms impact one's perspective on life, this course challenged me to think outside of myself and outside of the Westernized cultural beliefs I had always viewed as "normal." It helped me see my classmates in a new and more nuanced way, so that they were real persons with a history that extended far beyond themselves, rather than simply a fellow MFT student. The topics discussed in this class have stayed in my mind now as I meet with clients from different backgrounds, and I feel that I am better able to relate to them, or at least better able to value them.

MAFT 642 - Psychopathology and the Family. The study of the etiology and maintenance of the major mental disorders and the role of the family and community in assessment and intervention. The DSM IV-TR classification system, biological bases of behavior, treatment planning, and crisis intervention are given special attention. (3)

MAFT 645 - Systemic Interventions with Children and Adolescents. An examination of systemic models of conceptualizing child and adolescent problems and an introduction to systemic treatment modalities for working with children, adolescents and their families. Prerequisites: MAFT 634 and MAFT 635, or PSYC 636, or PSYC 738 (3)

MAFT 655 - Systemic Interventions with Special Populations: Abuse, Neglect , Violence, and Poverty. An advanced skills course providing systemic theory and techniques for treatment of at-risk, underserved families. Prerequisites: MAFT 634 and MAFT 635, or PSYC 636, or PSYC 738 (3)

MAFT 656 - Integration seminar: MFT and Christian faith/practice. An advanced seminar examining historical and contemporary issues in the integration of Christian faith, systemic epistemology, and the practice of marriage and family therapy (3).

MAFT 696 - Clinical Practicum I. Clinical experience in an approved setting with faculty supervision. MAFT 697 co-required. Graded pass/fail. (1)

MAFT 697 - Personal and Professional Development Group. Students will meet with faculty each semester in small groups for personal and professional development. Topics of focus will include development of MFT identity, person of the therapist issues, group dynamics, and spiritual formation. Graded pass/fail. (0)

MAFT 698 Clinical Practicum II. Clinical experience in an approved setting with on-site supervision. MAFT 624, 633, 634, 635, 637, 696 (two semesters) required. MAFT 697 co-required. Graded Pass/Fail (2).

This practicum (as well as all other courses) has prepared me to work with clients. It was more hands-on as we were able to apply what we were learning in other classes. We role-played various scenarios throughout the course of the first year, and it was so beneficial to my work with clients. Although there are limitations to role-playing, the very act of putting yourself in a client's position promotes empathy and understanding. Placing myself in a role that did not bear any resemblance to my own life challenged me to think about who that person and how his or her life could have led them to this point. Now as I am working with clients, I find the group very helpful and encouraging, because we are all going through the same feelings: sitting with clients in their struggles and in their pain, helping them to develop their voice, to be able to be the one who hears them. It is an honor to share this experience with classmates who listen and provide feedback and encouragement. I have found myself, as I sit with clients, thinking of my classmates and how their personalities would interact with this client. It is a relief that I do not only have my own voice in my head as I try to think through my client's situation; I have the experienced and wise voices of my professors, and I have the different voices of my classmates--genuine, playful, warm, direct, passionate--that guide me and encourage me in the process.

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