Working with Families and Children

Master Course Unit

COUN6921 Working with Families and Children

Level: Masters

Credit points: 4

Prerequisites: Advanced Counselling Applications

Recommended prerequisites: Approaches to Therapy I

Unit description

This unit offers students a theoretical overview of how to work with families and children. It explores the issues related to working with children and also the impact this work may have on the family system. The interplay between child development and the family system is analysed in depth. A range of developmental issues that may present in counselling is explored.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students should be able to: 

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

Unit content

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

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

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 Early Childhood
Australian Journal of Psychology
British Journal of Developmental Psychology
British Journal of Learning Disabilities
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality
Child & Adolescent Mental Health
Child Development
Child Psychiatry and Human Development
Child: Care, Health and Development
Children and Schools
Children and Society
Cognitive Theory and Research
Contemporary Family Therapy
Contemporary Sexuality
Developmental Neuropsychology
Disability, Handicap and Society
European Eating Disorders Review
European Journal of Personality
Infant and Child Development
Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Journal of Counselling and Development

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.