Working with Families and Adolescents

Master Course Unit

COUN6911 Working with Families and Adolescents

Level: Masters

Credit points: 4

Prerequisites: Advanced Counselling Applications

Recommended prerequisites: Approaches to Therapy I

Unit description

This unit offers a theoretical overview of how to work with families living with adolescents. It explores issues related to working with adolescents, as well as the impact this work may have on the family system. Providing an in-depth examination of the interplay between adolescent development and the family system, it looks at a range of developmental issues that may present in counselling.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students should be able to: 

  • analyse the impact of the family system on the adolescent
  • critique theories of adolescent development
  • identify and discuss common presenting issues for families living with adolescents
  • assess parenting and attachment styles in families and adolescents
  • explore the importance of roles within the family
  • identify and monitor the legal and ethical issues involved in working with families and adolescents
  • produce an integrative theoretical framework for working with families living with adolescents

Unit content

  • Adolescents within the Family System
  • Theories of Adolescent Development: Physical and Sexual Development
  • Theories of Adolescent Development: Cognitive Development
  • Theories of Adolescent Development: Social, Emotional and Moral Development
  • Distinguishing Between Individual and Systemic Issues
  • Issues Facing the Family with Adolescents
  • Issues Facing Adolescents
  • Special Issues: Schooling and Career Choice
  • Special Issues: Teenage Abuse and Neglect
  • Special Issues: Relationship Breakdown
  • The Legal System and Your Work
  • Developing an Integrated Model for Working with Families and Adolescents

Unit workload

The workload for this unit is 13 hours per week.

Assignment summary



Word count


Academic Essay




Case Study




Graduate attributes

The following graduate attributes will be developed in this unit:

  • Creative self-expression
  • Reasoned criticism
  • Multiple research methodologies
  • Complex data acquisition techniques and analysis
  • Written expression and reasoned argument from empirical data
  • Evaluating possible outcomes of alternative courses of action

Recommended text

Nichols, M. P. (2010). Family therapy: Concepts and methods (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon. 

Relevant journals

Adolescent Psychiatry
American Journal of Family Therapy
Applied Developmental Science
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Australian Journal of Psychology
British Journal of Developmental Psychology
British Journal of Learning Disabilities
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality
Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Cognitive Theory and Research
Contemporary Family Therapy
Contemporary Sexuality
Developmental Neuropsychology
Disability, Handicap and Society
Eating Disorders
European Eating Disorders Review
European Journal of Personality
Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Journal of Counselling and Development
Journal of Family Therapy
Journal of Personality

Academic misconduct

Ethical conduct and academic integrity and honesty are fundamental to the mission of ACAP. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated by the college. Please refer to for full details of the Academic Misconduct Policy.


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it again at the beginning of the semester.