Online Course Descriptions

MFT@Northwestern courses are carefully designed by Northwestern faculty in conjunction with a skilled production team to effectively teach the integrative systemic therapeutic (IST) model — an integral component of our master’s in marriage and family therapy curriculum — while supplementing relevant clinical experiences and immersions. Our program follows a cohort model, so each course builds on the one before.

Below is a list of current MFT@Northwestern courses.  

MS_FT 400-6 Professional Identity Seminar (0 Unit)

This seminar introduces students to the personal and professional issues involved in becoming and developing as a marriage and family therapist, during graduate training and beyond. This will include a focus on the development of self-awareness to define and differentiate themselves and their practice effectively. An optional research seminar is geared toward those interested in pursuing a PhD, focused on finding the right PhD program and how to make yourself competitive. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 401-6 Basic Concepts in Systemic Therapy (1 Unit)

This course is an introduction to the central theoretical underpinnings of systemic family therapy, providing a basic framework for assessment of and intervention in the problems clients bring to therapy.  Particular attention is paid to the assumptions, concepts, frameworks, and clinical guidelines of the Integrative Systemic Therapy (IST) perspective. The course provides a set of constructs for planning and conducting therapy, a structure for organizing bodies of knowledge associated with the MFT field, and a foundation for lifelong professional growth.  MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 402-6 Methods in Systems Therapy (1 Unit)

This course introduces students to a range of methods used in systems therapy. The methods will be drawn from the integrative traditions emphasized in The Family Institute model and will prepare students to engage, work with, and terminate cases. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 403-6 Self and Other Systems: Theory and Interventions (1 Unit)

This course’s purpose is to deepen students’ understanding of self and systems. A particular emphasis will be given to aspects of self-development and the therapist’s understanding of self when working with systems. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 410-6 Human Development and the Life Cycle (1 Unit)

This course utilizes the development meta framework to understand individual, relational, and family development across the life span and the dynamic interactions within families. Physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development will be presented at each age level, including issues regarding culture, gender, and sexual orientation. Commonly presented problems and therapeutic interventions will be discussed for each age group. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 411-6 Intimate Relationship I (1 Unit)

This course will elaborate on the Integrative Systemic Therapy (IST) approach for working with couples, which involves a focus on sequences of interaction, affective intensity, and subtlety of communication.  The most common problems that couples present — including communication issues, intense conflict, trust and attachment, sexual difficulties, and lifespan changes — will be addressed. Theoretical models, case conceptualization, and intervention will be taught from a cultural perspective, considering the social positioning of both the client(s) and the therapist. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 412-6 Special Problems & Populations (1 Unit)

This course provides the concepts and develops the skills necessary for working with particular client-lived experiences and problems. The course will address unique considerations presented in working with populations such as the BIPOC community; chosen, divorced, and blended families; LGBTQIA clients/families; clients and families living with severe mental and/or physical disorders; and more.  This course raises awareness of issues related to the systemic treatment of families navigating complex constraints. Participants will be challenged to integrate knowledge of these topics with the Integrative Systemic Therapy (IST) approach and with their own clinical experiences to develop an understanding of how to work systemically with these problems and populations. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 413-6 Intimate Relations II (1 Unit)

In this second course on intimate relations, students will increase their skillset for working with couples in therapy and building on what they have learned throughout first-year courses, particularly in Intimate Relations I (MS_FT 411-0). This advanced course will provide the techniques and skill-building derived from evidence-based models of couples therapy, and focuses on some of the more challenging problems including sexual issues, infidelity, individual problems, and cultural issues impacting therapy. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 421-6 Systemic Assessment (1 Unit) 

Students will learn how to define the parameters of systemic assessment and how it differs from, and can be integrated with, individual assessment, as well as how systemic assessment operates within the current legal and medical context. Students will learn the DSM-5-TR diagnostic system and how to apply it systematically, as well as learn specific biopsychosocial systemic assessment guidelines, treatment planning that draws from their assessment, and the means to navigate, utilize and critique the research available to address diagnostic criterion. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 422-6 Family Research (1 Unit)

Students completing the course will develop skills to understand common MFT research methods, how research methods are applied, and how to critique research in the fields of marriage and family therapy and mental health. Students also will be introduced to empirically based MFT practices. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 424-6 Group Therapy (1 Unit)

In this course, trainees learn the theoretical basis of group therapy and develop a framework for group work. The course includes didactic, experiential, and clinical elements. Students will learn the fundamentals of group dynamics through lectures/readings, participation as a member of a group, and by co-facilitating a group. The course also addresses the business aspects of setting up and marketing a group. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 427-6 Family of Origin: Systemic Perspectives on Risk and Resilience (1 Unit)

This course offers an in-depth understanding of transgenerational models including a systemic perspective on the development of intrapsychic structure and function. Students will learn the utilization and application of each model with cases and apply the transgenerational framework to strengthen their conceptualization of the self of the therapist. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_ FT 428-6 Legal, Ethical, & Professional Issues in Marriage and Family Therapy (1 Unit)

This course will explore legal issues and areas of family law in the MFT practice. The course objectives include the demonstration of competence in handling legal issues such as confidentiality, duty to protect, malpractice, expert testimony, and understanding of the AAMFT Code of Ethics and state requirements regarding ethical practice. Additionally, students will learn how personal values and the “self of the therapist” affect clinical work, develop a professional identity as an MFT, and understand how to keep it current. Lastly, the course will pay special attention to underrepresented groups and how this links to the topics of social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion in MFT practice. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 429-6 Sex Therapy (1 Unit)

A multidimensional, biophysical approach to the diagnosis and treatment of sexual difficulty in individuals and couples. Sexual problems discussed include disorders of desire, aversion, arousal, orgasm, and pain. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 430-6 Power, Privilege, and Difference: Practicing Cultural Curiosity and Humility in a Multicultural World (1 Unit)

The purpose of this course is to sensitize students to the influence of race, class, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, and ability on lived experience (generally) and on the practice of marriage and family therapy (specifically). This course will provide students with theoretical knowledge and experiential learning to increase cultural humility, develop awareness of personal and institutional bias, and gain insight into the assumptions, values, and beliefs about both themselves and others as a means of working more effectively with diverse populations in the therapeutic process. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 436-6 Family Therapy Treatment Models (1 Unit)

This course is an examination of the major treatment models that have emerged through the development and history of systemic therapy, including their respective philosophies, theories, assessments, and interventions. This course is designed to provide an overview of the major models of systemic therapy that have been developed and critiqued throught time. Course content focuses on traditional and contemporary systemic therapy models, including these models’ respective theoretical underpinnings, assumptions of systemic health versus pathology, goals, role of the therapist, and means of intervention. In addition, the course will explore how to use models to navigate the matrix of IST. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 437-6 Family Therapy with children and Adolescents (1 Unit)

This course will provide the theoretical background and practical skills for working with families that present with children and adolescents. A systemic framework will be employed as the basis for understanding and intervening with families, children, and adolescents. Special consideration will be given to intersections of the development and sociocultural systems, with a focus on assessment and intervention. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 440-6 Systemic Perspective in the Treatment of Substance Use/Misuse and Addiction (1 Unit)

This course reviews distinctions of disease model vs. systemic views of addiction and treatment, discusses the markers of abuse and dependence, illuminates various therapeutic approaches, and explores the efficacy of family therapy approaches. Students develop working theoretical and clinical knowledge of addiction treatment. Issues of substance use and addiction will be explored through a social justice lens, integrating knowledge of broad cultural systems that affect the prevalence, nature, and treatment of substance use. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 480-6 Pre-Practicum in Marriage and Family Therapy (1 Unit)

This course introduces the basic administrative and clinical aspects of conducting systemic therapy using the Integrative Systemic Therapy (IST) perspective. The course presumes no background as a therapist and aims to provide students with the essential skills needed to conduct the first phone call and the initial sessions with individuals, couples, and families. In addition, the course will focus on the role of personal values, beliefs, and interpersonal style in the work of psychotherapy. Students will be encouraged to examine the ways in which their own culture and family background has shaped their perspective, and how to make use of personal experience as a professional marriage and family therapist through the ongoing reflection and development of the self of the therapist. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 481-6 Internship in Marital & Family Therapy (3 Units) 

This is a clinical internship at a program-approved placement site for 15-20 hours per week under supervision of assigned AAMFT approved supervisor, in consultation with MFT program faculty. Students gain practical experience in providing systemic assessment and treatment for clients. The internship begins in the second quarter for full-time students or the third quarter for full-time California students and continues through the fifth term for 1 credit per quarter. Part-time students must work with advisers to determine when they can start this course. Prerequisites: MS_FT 480-0 Prepracticum in Family Therapy. This is a 1 unit course and will be taken 3 times. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 482-6 Advanced Internship in Marriage & Family Therapy (3 Units) 

This is a clinical internship at a program-approved placement site for 15-20 hours per week under supervision of assigned AAMFT approved supervisor, in consultation with MFT program faculty. Students advance their skills in providing systemic assessment and treatment for clients. The advanced internship begins in the fifth quarter for full-time students or the sixth quarter for full-time California students and continues for the duration of the program for 1 credit per quarter. Part-time students must work with advisers to determine when they can start this course. Prerequisites: MS_FT 481-6 Internship in Marital & Family Therapy (3 Units). This is a 1 unit course and will be taken 3 times. MFT@Northwestern students only.

MS_FT 495-6 Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy Capstone Project (1 Unit)

The MSMFT Capstone involves the completion of a case study process, a case presentation, and a paper that demonstrate the student’s acquisition of clinical competence, as well as the ability to integrate relevant knowledge and skill within the framework of Integrative Systemic Therapy and apply this integration to their clinical work. The project demonstrates the student’s ability to accomplish systemic integration in their practice and, thereby, their readiness to continue their professional growth through the integration of new learnings. MFT@Northwestern students only.