Final project | SOCW 6456 – Social Work Practice With Couples and Family Systems | Walden University

For your Final Project, you will write a 8- to 10-page theory paper that articulates your theoretical orientation toward working with couples and families.

Your paper must include the following elements that evolve from your personal theoretical orientation:

  • The basic view of human nature as seen through your theoretical lens
  • Key factors that account for changes in behavior
  • An explanation of how intervention strategies are designed within this theoretical orientation
  • An explanation of how your theory conceptualizes mental health
  • Key factors that contribute to healthy family/couple relationships
  • A description of the skills necessary within this theoretical orientation to meet the agreed upon goals and outcomes for couples and families
  • The nature of the practitioner-client relationship and its relative importance
  • An explanation of the evidence to support your theoretical orientation as an appropriate intervention for couples and families in need.

You are asked to write an 8-10 page paper, discussing your theoretical orientation towards working with couples and families.

First, you are asked to articulate the view about human nature from your theoretical orientation. In Narrative Therapy, the view of human nature might be that we all would benefit from telling our stories. In Solution Focused Therapy, the view on human nature might be that our issues get solved by imagining a solution. In cognitive-behavioral therrapy, the view of human nature is that we are prone to erroneous thinking

Next, you will write about how intervention strategies are designed within your theoretical orientation, In CBT, an intervention aimed at changing a maladaptive thought might question or challenge a thought or feeling that is believed to be not constructive. 

Next you will explain how your theoretical orientation defines mental health. In Modern Psychoanalysis, my theoretical orientation, a person is deemed healthy when that person can spontaneously feel the full range of feelings, without the need to employ defense mechanisms to deflect from experiencing them. In CBT, a person might be deemed healthy when maladaptive thoughts no longer have such a strong pull on the direction of their functioning.

Next, you will think about what are the key factors that define healthy family and couple functioning. You might want to look at Gottman Theory for an example of a theoretician who actually defined healthy couple and family functioning, as most theorists tend to focus on what is wrong with functioning. Bowen Theory also looks at healthy dynamics of a couple and family in clear detail, looking for differentiation in communication. In Modern Psychoanalysis, which is not a theory designed for couples and families, I would say that we look for members of couples displaying the ability to listen to each other and be supportive, allowing each person to express as many feelings as necessary to maintain communication. The standard for healthy communication in families is different from the standard of expression measured in individual treatment. 

Next you will discuss the skills necessary for couples and families to achieve their goals. This is not a clear prompt, as I am unsure if the prompt would like therapist skills or client skills. I would prefer that you write about the therapeutic skills that you would need as a clinician in order to create the necessary therapeutic environment for your clients.

Next you will write about the importance of the relationship between therapist and clients in your theoretical orientation. In Gottman therapy, for example, there is a strong position that the therapist should be there to facilitate, not to create a dependency. In Solution Focused Therapy, the therapist is there to create a different way of conceptualizing issues, introducing hope. in Modern Psychoanalysis, a therapist works towards establishing a long-term relationship that allows careful examination and exploration of all facets of the couple or family dynamic, which is different from many of the methods studied this term. For example EFT is a method that is designed to be short and fleeting.

Next you will gather evidence for your theoretical position. Evidence can be acquired through single case studies or through randomized controlled trials. Generally, if a paper has been published about a specific theoretical orientation or method in a peer-reviewed journal, that qualifies as evidence.

Required Readings

Larner, G., Strong, T., & Busch, R. (2013). Family Therapy & the Spectre of DSM-5. Australian & New Zealand Journal Of Family Therapy, 34(2), 87-89.

Lebow, J. L. (2013). Editorial: DSM-V and family therapy. Family Process, 52(2), 155–160.

Strong, T., & Busch, R. (2013). DSM-5 and Evidence- Based Family Therapy?. Australian & New Zealand Journal Of Family Therapy, 34(2), 90-103.

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