Family Systems Social Work

Applied Community Studies
Social Work
Course Code
SOWK 2333
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
In this course students examine families from a systems perspective. Starting with students’ own family, participants are offered tools to use in understanding and reflecting on their own family experience and its impact on professional practice. The concepts of family strengths, diversity, natural support networks, community, social context and culture are examined. Emphasis is placed on the collaborative and supportive roles that social workers have with families.
Course Content

Course content will be guided by research, empirical knowledge and best practice. The following values and principles, consistent with professional standards, inform course content.

  • Ability to reflect on one’s own family experience is central to understanding the potential impact of one’s values, beliefs, and attitudes on social work practice.
  • A multi-generational family systems model such as the Multi Contextual Life Cycle Framework provides a comprehensive assessment of a family’s current situation.
  • Diversity exists within individuals, families, communities and cultures.
  • Everyone comes from a family. A family systems perspective provides multiple opportunities to provide support and assistance to clients.
  • All families have strengths, even when under stress.  It is essential for social workers to encourage resiliency and positive coping mechanisms.
  • Providing support to families is only possible through collaboration with client families, as well as with other professionals and community members.
  • Families develop through life transitions that present opportunities for change and growth.
  • Stress can have a significant impact on both individual and family development.  The effects of major stress, trauma and loss can go on for generations (e.g., Aboriginal people, refugees, etc.), and have a direct or indirect effect on individual or family functioning.
Methods Of Instruction

Group work
Experiential classroom activities
Audio-visual presentations.

Means of Assessment

Means of AssessmentThis course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations. Typical means of evaluation would include a combination of:

  • Research papers
  • Classroom activities and participation
  • Examinations.
Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Describe the relationship between individual development and family dynamics;
  2. Examine and analyze the nature of crisis, stress and change from a family systems perspective;
  3. Demonstrate understanding of relevant theoretical frameworks (e.g., family life cycle and family systems theory);
  4. Describe impact of gender roles, culture, socio-economics and stress on families;
  5. Apply the social support network model for families and explain the significance;
  6. Describe the role of social workers in supporting client families;
  7. Demonstrate understanding of variables that are used to assess levels of need in client families;
  8. Demonstrate importance of self-awareness in reflective practice;
  9. Examine own values and attitudes towards families;
  10. Articulate how one's own family background shapes one's approach to working with others and;
  11. Describe how the conscious use of self is part of one's own professional practice model.
Textbook Materials

Text(s) such as the following, the list to be updated periodically:

Madsen, W., 7 Gillespie, K. (2014). Collaborative helping: A strengths framework for home-based services. Hokoken, NJ: Wiley.
McGoldrick, M., Carter, B., Garcia-Preto, N. (2011). The expanded family life cycle, (4th ed.). Toronto: Allyn & Bacon.
Shimoni, R., & Baxter, J. (2012). Working with families (5th ed.). Toronto: Pearson/ Addison Wesley.



No prerequisite courses.


No corequisite courses.


Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for SOWK 2333
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU SA 231 (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC SOCW 2XX (1.5)

Course Offerings

Summer 2022

There aren't any scheduled upcoming offerings for this course.