ABOUT THE COURSE
Welcome to HDF 230, the online version of Marriage and Family Relationships. The focus of this introductory level course is an examination of committed relationships and family experiences from a variety of perspectives and points of view. Although the primary emphasis is on research studies that have examined the family, this course will also help you develop insight into your personal life, relationships, and family experience as a basis for personal and professional development.
The course is structured as four units, each focusing on a different aspect or view of family life.
First we will look at the big picture. We will examine what we mean by "family," how we define it, and why we need families (what are families supposed to do?). We will see that our ideas of families have changed over time and that our ideas of how families "used to be" may not be all that accurate. We will also discover that family life varies widely across different cultures.
The second unit examines how families change and develop over time. We will look at some key transitions in family life: choosing a partner, getting married, having children, caring for ill or aging parents. Families need to constantly adjust to meet changing circumstances such as children growing older, illness, financial worries, and how to balance work and family life. We will take a look at how this works for most families.
In the third unit we take a close up look at the inner workings of family. We examine the importance of good communication as a critical skill in managing and resolving conflict. We will study family violence and sexual abuse as two examples problems families face, and how they can get assistance in dealing with them. We will also take a close up look at separation, divorce and the impact on children.
The last unit celebrates what families do well, highlighting their strength and looking at specific activities that seem to enrich family life.
The course will cover a period of five weeks during the first summer term. Below is a brief syllabus outlining the course objectives, required text, and the course calendar. The complete syllabus including class assignments and grading criteria will be posted the week before we commence.
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
Jerome Adams is a Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and director of the Family Therapy Program . The MFT graduate program here at URI is a nationally accredited master's level graduate program that trains professionals in couple and family counseling. A graduate of Purdue University, Dr. Adams has more than twenty years experience as a teacher and family psychologist. He maintains an active clinical practice treating families and has ongoing research projects in the areas of family psychotherapy and the evaluation of programs for children and families. Dr. Adams is also co-director of the URI Family Resource Partnership, a consortium of faculty providing technical assistance, program evaluation, and training to state and regional agencies that provide services to children and families.
UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND
FAMILY THERAPY PROGRAM
Jerome Adams Ph.D.
Office: Transition Center Rm 112
Phone: 874-5962 (my office)
Text: Strong, B, DeVault, C, and T. Cohen. The Marriage and Family Experience: Intimate relationships in a changing society. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 11th Edition, 2011
I. The Family in Perspective
A. The family as an institution, past and present
B. The family as an institution, across cultures
C. The importance of research on the family
II. Family Life
A. Intimate Relationships
1. Friendships and love
2. Choosing a partner
3. Work and family life
B. Family Development
1. Marriage in perspective
2. Parents and children
III. Family Challenges
A. Managing conflict
B. Violence and sexual abuse
C. Balancing work and family
D. Separation and divorce
IV. The Evolving Family
A. Building strong families
The goals for this course are described in terms of what you should be able to do when the course is over. My hope is that you will see the world a little differently and have more questions than answers when we are done. Because this course is an introduction, there are limits to how much we can cover. You will no doubt identify many topics of family life that we could have included but simply did not have time to address. That is why we have more than one course in family studies. That said, by the time we are done you should be able to:
A CAUTIONARY TALE(S)
Throughout this course you will be exposed to a variety of information or data about families. This information may or may not reflect your own experience but its value is this: It will enable you to learn about how other people experience family life. You may find some of the material controversial. You can learn a good deal by searching for insights from persons with whom you disagree. You are not asked to give up strongly held beliefs without examining their virtue, but be open enough to other ideas, beliefs, research findings and values, to make new perspectives possible.
Studying families is different from studying robotics or plants. Because we all grew up in families and are currently involved in relationships the subject matter feels very familiar. My hope is that you will be excited about the things you learn and want to share this enthusiasm.
But like the adage that a lawyer who represents herself has a fool for a client, it is not a good idea to try to fix your relationships on the basis of what you learn here. So don't try to be your family's therapist. Don't draw conclusions, diagnose, or offer advice to boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, partners, parents, or other family members on the basis of what you learn here. Remember a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I have been practicing family psychology as a clinician and researcher for 20 years and I still am amazed at how much I don't know. One thing I do know. Some of you will do this anyway. But don't say I didn't warn you.