2.25 CE Credits Available
Couples Therapy: A Family Systems Approach
by Monica McGoldrick
Learn from seasoned family therapist Monica McGoldrick how bringing family-of-origin issues into couples therapy can help you pinpoint the root of the problem, make more targeted interventions, and ultimately “unstick” a couple struggling with insecurity and distrust.
Monica McGoldrick understands the complexities and clinical pitfalls of wading into the depths of complex relationships. Having worked extensively with couples and families, she knows how clinicians become mired in presenting problems and interminable conflicts. Contemporary therapists tend to over-focus on the present. In contrast, McGoldrick widens the clinical gaze so the past is brought into sharp relief in the couple’s present relationship. McGoldrick reminds us that who we are flows from race, culture, family of origin narratives, gender and life-cycle issues—and only by considering these critical factors can we be most effective with our clients.

In this six-session clinical exploration of John and Barbara’s 12-year marriage, McGoldrick explores their current relationship challenges in the context of dramatic and palpable family-of-origin relations. John, soon to arrive at age 50, distances himself from his family, a poignant re-enactment of his father’s behavior years before. Barbara, still reeling from her father’s departure from the family when she was the same age as her daughter is currently, is insecure and untrusting.

Through her finely attuned empathy, McGoldrick masterfully weaves intergenerational threads through this couple’s gripping family narrative...a clinical page-turner. You can’t help but learn and be inspired by seeing her in action. 

What therapists are saying…

“Monica McGoldrick shares her refined skills of working with a family with the audience. The viewer receives a comprehensive overview of McGoldrick’s expertise in Family Systems Theory including building rapport with each individual family member and the family as a whole, the usage of genograms, as well as shifting the focus away from the presenting problem and instead exploring the systemic background. Novice and seasoned mental health professionals will benefit from this course alike to expand their knowledge and repertoire of clinical skills.”

—Raffaela Peter, PhD, Associate Professor Bellevue University 
“Excellent information from the author. The genogram is a great strategy to use when working with families or individuals. Dr. McGoldrick's demonstration of how to quickly put together a genogram and gather information that details what is occurring with the client and/or family is a valuable tool that both beginning and experienced therapists can use. The use of this strategic tool never fails to give a ‘good’ picture of family dynamics. Using this video in a classroom setting will help students learn the process and begin to develop confidence in using genograms.”

—Mary G. Mayorga, PhD, Belmont University
“Monica McGoldrick uses a multigenerational lens and directive approach to explore how familial patterns affect current relationships. This video demonstrates the effective way individual work can morph into couple’s and family work, resulting in a healthier communication style.”

—Hannah E. Acquaye, PhD, Assistant Professor of Counseling, Western Seminary
In Depth
CE Test
Along with Virginia Satir, Murray Bowen, Salvador Minuchin and Jay Haley, Monica McGoldrick is a family therapy pioneer. In the spirit of this tradition, she masterfully works with John and Barbara around intimacy, communication and trust. In so doing, she helps the viewer to appreciate the personal and clinical challenge of couples therapy. This often means bringing family-of-origin members directly into the room, both figuratively and literally.

While engaging intimately with this couple, McGoldrick is also speaking directly to viewer. She challenges us to look at the self of the therapist and to question cherished notions around symptoms, growth and change within systems. With strength, grace, heartfelt compassion and humility, McGoldrick demonstrates the importance of being both teacher and healer. And in doing so, she challenges the viewer to consider the clinical power of genograms while giving them permission to be directive and self-disclosing.

During nearly 2 1/2 hours of gripping clinical video enactment, McGoldrick highlights key moments in her work with John and Barbara. Along the way, both novice and experienced clinicians will expand their appreciation of family dynamics. Ongoing and insightful voiceover commentaries by the therapist provide the viewer with an appreciation of her in-the-moment thinking. Thoughtful and clinically-informed conversations between McGoldrick and Victor Yalom bring the clinical interventions into clear focus. As a result, clinicians will benefit from the opportunity to process and consolidate their own clinical hunches and insights.

By watching this video, you will:
  • Recognize the value of a multi-generational approach to couples therapy.
  • Describe the theory and techniques of a systemic/contextual approach to couples therapy.
  • Distinguish between supportive and directive interventions in couples therapy. 

Length of video: 2:27:58

English subtitles available

Individual ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-551-3

Individual ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-551-9

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-552-1

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-552-6

Monica McGoldrick, M.A., LCSW, Ph.D. (Honorary), the Director of the Multicultural Family Institute in Highland Park, New Jersey, is also Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She received an Honorary Doctorate from Smith for her many contributions to the field. Among many other awards, she has received the American Family Therapy Academy Award for Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice. She has written and spoken widely on a variety of topics including culture, class, gender, the family life cycle, loss, genograms, remarried families, and siblings. Three of her books have become best-selling classics of their publishers: The Changing Family Life Cycle, 3rd edition; Ethnicity and Family Therapy, 3rd edition; and Genograms: Assessment and Intervention, 3rd edition. See her website for more information on Monica McGoldrick and The Multicultural Family Institute.

See all Monica McGoldrick videos.

CE credits: 2.25

Learning Objectives:

  • Explain a multi-generational approach to couples therapy
  • Describe core techniques of systemic/contextual couples therapy
  • Recite the differences between supportive and directive couples interventions

Bibliography available upon request

This course is offered for ASWB ACE credit for social workers. See complete list of CE approvals here

© 2018

Course Reviewed January 2024

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