Master of Science in Counseling – Marital, Couples and Family Counseling/Therapy

Learn to Strengthen Relationships in the Marriage and Family Counseling Program

Couples and families need the guidance of an expert counselor during difficult times. As a licensed practitioner of couple and family therapy with a degree from Mid-America Christian University, you will help couples and families nurture positive change and development in their relationships.

The M.S. in Counseling with an emphasis in Marital, Couples and Family Counseling/Therapy approaches the practice of marriage and family therapy from a biblical perspective that emphasizes traditional Christian values. Students in the program learn to analyze the systems and inner dynamics at play in family and romantic relationships so they can help clients grow in lasting ways.

Through MACU’s affordable program, students are prepared for Oklahoma licensure by developing the skills and expertise required to treat a wide range of relational and behavioral problems that may arise in families, marriages and other intimate relationships.

Why Choose MACU for a M.S. in Counseling with an Emphasis in Marital, Couples and Family Counseling?

MACU's Master of Science in Counseling with an emphasis in Marital, Couples and Family Counseling/Therapy prepares graduates for a fulfilling career as a marriage and family therapist after obtaining state licensure. 

The graduate program trains students for a compassionate, ethical practice in a variety of settings that are both secular and church-based. Graduates of the program will be aware of how a client's spirituality and background influence his or her situation. 

MACU graduates may also be able to start their own private practices or work in institutional or outpatient settings.

Awards for MACU's Counseling Programs

MACU’s Counseling degree was recently recognized by Study.com as one of the Best Online Counseling Degree Programs in the U.S. for educational excellence, affordability, faculty quality and more. Study.com also applauded MACU’s accelerated learning format, particularly in combination with our Life Experience Program. In addition to helping adult learners earn their online degree quickly, Study.com also noted the variety of emphasis programs available at MACU, allowing students to prepare for licensure through coursework, practicum and internship opportunities.

MACU's M.S. in Marital, Couples & Family Counseling was named by Intelligent.com as one of the Best Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy programs in the country in 2020. The ranking specifically noted MACU's flexibility in start dates, making our M.S. in Marital, Couples & Family Counseling an excellent option for busy adult learners. 

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Courses

Code Course
COUN5113 Psychopathology
The ability to systematically perform differential diagnosis and establish the larger context for understanding the diagnosis is essential to the professional counselor. Using case studies, students will perform a structured protocol for performing a differential diagnosis with the current DSM disorders. The following primary skills will be developed: Recognizing criteria oof abnormality to increase sensitivity to identifying relevant symptomology, performing the structured steps of a diagnosis, recognizing co-occurring disorders to understand the range of issues needed for treatment planning, performing a differential diagnosis to distinguish the correct diagnosis from similar conditions, identifying the influence of medical conditions on symptomology, predicting the impact of crisis and trauma on symptomology and functioning to further quality treatment planning, and systematically appropriately ruling out malingering, factitious disorder, adjustment disorders, and substance etiology to finalize a correct diagnosis.
COUN5123 Career Counseling and Development
The cornerstone of career counseling is recognizing that it touches all aspects of human life, for it involves political, economic, educational, philsophical, and social progress and changealong with understanding the whole person as a member of complex social systems. The specialized content of career counseling includes initial career choice, the connection between career and personal problems, adaptations to changes in the workplace, multiple career dilemmas, and maintenance of a balanced lifestyle. The interactions of career, life, and gender roles on marriages, couples, and families will be an important focus of this course. Students will develop a comprehensive approach for skillfully performing career counseling that also incorporates personal concerns by examining and applying career assessment theory, performing major theories of career counseling are examined along with the presentation of major types of resource information, and employing research on trends in the world of work.
COUN5213 Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy
The foundation of counseling knowledge is the in-depth understanding of established theories counseling. Students will perform a comprehensive study of the prominent theories of counseling and psychotherapy, issues related to their application involving diversity, the roles of spirituality and wellness as it relates to mental health and addiction clients, and how to practically apply the theories based on individual issues and needs. The study of the theories includes personality theories, theories of motivation, theories of change, and ways to analyze case studies to make high quality clinical decisions for treatment. Students will experience a special focus on theoretical reasoning in both explaining the theories and fully elucidating case example in order to develop an integrated foundation upon which the more detailed study of the couseling field will build.
COUN5313 Individual Counseling and Psychotherapy Techniques
The crucial skills and strategies of counseling and psychotherapy establish a basic structure applicable to many different theories that counselors can employ and integrate into their own natural style of helping. Students will study and apply the multi-culturally sensitive micro-skills approach to provide the critical background for competence in listening, influencing, and structuring an effective counseling session with individuals, families, couples, and marriages.Through practice session, students will master a basic structure for the session applicable to many different theories including developing an emphatic relationship and working alliance with the client; drawing out the client's story with special attention to strengths and resources, setting clear goals with the client, enabling the client to restructure and think differently about concerns, issues, and challenges, and helping the client move to action outside the session. Students will acquire skills for identifying and addressing common issues in working with clients' spiritual/religious issues to promote optimal functioning to increase meaning and purpose in life. Strength and character assessment and feedback will be employed to promote counselor dispositions in performing the counseling process.
COUN5413 Interpersonal Communication in Counseling and Relationships
Increased knoiwledge of fundamental patterns for improving communication through the use of language and language patterns allows students to master promoting change -work in individual, couples, marital, family counseling, and coaching. Students will advance theri resourcefulness in applying communication to form or enrich relationships. Students will demostrate an enhanced level of applying communication processes that presuppose a structure of healing assumptions within the framework of communication. The range of skills involve students eliciting high quality information, formulating solution-focused questions, and demonstrating the application of well-organized communication processes in performing counseling and coaching. Students learn to address clients' mental health and relationship issues by building communication theat is designed to indirectly presuppose meanings that transform limiting thought-frames into positive frames - promotinh optimism, hope, and healing attitudes - as the context for beneficial change in clients. Drawing from positive psychology, emotional and social intelligence, and neuro-linguistic communication a range of themes will be addressed to include: Rapport, bonding and connecting, nurturing, attqachment and love, compassion, male/female differences, optimal functioning, and increasing meaning and purpose in life.
COUN5513 Marriage and Family Systems and Treatment
Family therapy has a revolutionary emphasis on systems thinking and the search for identifiable and recurring family patterns to be explored in this course. Students will examine the history and developmetn of marriage, couple and family counseling including foundational theories and principels of family development, the contemporary family, family subsystems, individual and interpersonal relationships, and grasping the influence of larger systems - race, social class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation - on the functioning family and its individual members. Students will utilize systematic theories to describe problems and structure solutions by acquiring knowledge of the model of marital and family counseling. Students will examine the fundamentals of the family including adopting a family relationship framework, family development, diverstiy in family functioning, systems theory and systematic thinking, and the development and practice of family therapy. The range of theories examined includes: Psychodynamic models, transgenerational models, experiential models, the structural model, the strategic models, behavioral and cognitive-behavioral models, social construction models, and population-based family treatments.
COUN5613 Marital and Family Treatment Techniques
Couples, marital, and family counselors need to be empowered to apply theoretical concepts and develop real-world skills and essential competenices performed in the roles and setting of counseling with a strong understaing of the structures of marriages, couples, and families. Students will be engagedin ana ctive learning process apllying family therapy theories using theory-informed case conceptualization, clinical assessment, treatment planning, and progress notes. Students will learn to effectively determine factors to address by identifying clients' presenting issues in alingnment with a set of research-based qualities that poromote stable, satisfying, and durable relationships. Students will demonstrate how to apply the following theories: Systematic and Strategic Therapies, Structural Family Therapy, Experiential Family Therapies, Intergenerational and Psychoanalytical Family Therapies, Cognitive-Behavioral and Mindfulness-Based Couple and Family Therapies, Cognitive Interpersonal Therapy, Solution-Based Therapies, Collaborative and Narrative Therapies, Group Treatments for Couples and Families. A range of fundamental relationship skills will be studied that counselors can incorporate into their practice: Communication danger signs, handling conflict, problem solving, clarifying core beliefs and expectations, addressing issues and hidden issues, forgiveness, commitment, preserving and enhancing fund, friendship, and sensuality.
COUN5713 Human Development
The foundations of biological, neurological, and physiological factors along with systematic and environmental factors affecting human development, functioning, and behavior is the primary focus of this course. Ethical and culturally relevant strategies for promoting resilience and optimum development and wellness across the lifespan will be included. Students will explore theoretical and research approaches in the study of the development of human abilities and behavior throughout the lifespan - childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Topics include developmental research methodology, variables influencing development, and basic developmental processes in physical, motor, perceptual, cognitive, linguistic, emotional, social, and personality development. Applications of developmental theory to counseling are emphasized.
COUN5913 Research Methods
Highly qualified counselors comprehend research and the scientific method behind the conclusions presented. Students will compose well-written research presentations demonstrating an experimental design for study by constructing a hypothesis clearly delineating dependent and independent variables and explaining the framework for performing the study. The research project will include the significance, the potential impact on mental health research based on a comprehensive review of the literature, and an appropriate research design. The nature and design of experimental, observational, quasi-experimental, survey, and correlational studies will be examined related to behavioral observation. Students will assess the quality of research studies to include proper design, correct utilization of descriptive and inferential statistics, accurate analysis of the research data, and the appropriateness of the conclusions drawn from the data.
COUN6133 Multi-Cultural Treatment Planning for Individuals and Families
Providing professional counselors with multicultural counseling theory and practices for culturally competent interventions within the broad range of important areas of culturally diverstiy along with the in-depth study of factors resulting in diagnostic symptomology is a major focus of this course. The scope of cultural diversity includes race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic disadvantage, and military service correlated with how these impact diagnostic interviewing, assessment methods, treatment planning, and the counseling relationship. Significantly enhancing diagnostic interviewing and assessment skills, students will extensively explore the etiology and underlying dynamics of the range of the current DSM diagnoses, design appropriate evidence-based treatment plans, and develop strategies for modifying treatment plans and processes related to cultural diversity.
COUN6233 Ethics and Professional Studies
The detailed study of the legal and ethical codes for professional licensure establishes a framework fro ethical decision-making essential to quality practice. The major focus of study is the American Counseling Association's ACA Code of Ethics along with investigation of other professional codes. Case studies presenting common dilemmas and conflicts are extensively analyzed to identify potential risks and areas of concern, to recognize the ethical standards involved, and to understand essential principles for preventing ethical violations or properly resolving ethical issues. Students will examine the theoretical and philosophical issues fundamental to fully comprehending the codes. Major themes of study include the following: Professional socialization/relationships, the role of the professional organization, confidentiality and privacy, proper assessment and interpretation of data, supervision and training, distance counseling, technology and social media, the legal responsibilities and liabilities involving record keeping, third party reimbursement and other considerations pertaining to independent practice and inter-professional cooperation, ethics, and family law. Students will learn advocacy processes for addressing institution and social barriers that impede equity and success for clients.
COUN6353 Human Sexuality in Counseling
Human Sexuality issues will be explored with an emphasis on assessment and intervention in mental health counseling practice. The course is designed for counselors whose work will bring them into contact with clients experiencing problems and concerns with their sexuality. The course will develop: a) students' knowledge base related to human sexuality, b) an understanding of the varied sexuality issues which may be encountered in professional counseling practice, c) students' skills in assessment and interventionskills with sexuality issues, and d) increased awareness of one's personal perceptions, attitudes and affect related to sexuality issues. Course participants will become more effective in identifying, assessing and intervening with human sexuality related counseling issues.
COUN6433 Assessment of Individuals and Families in Counseling
Mental health assessment provides the counselor with information for performing correct diagnoses, developing treatment plans, uncovering the dynamics underlying psychopathology as part of the total assessment of individuals and famillies. Students will acquire assessment interviewing skills to include biopsychosocial assessment to increase competence in making and explaining diagnoses with assessments relevant to individual counselors as well as marriage, couple, and family counselors. Students will analyze case studies to develop the skills for determining the appropriateness of performing assessment, selecting types of assessment instruments and writing mental health reports. Students will administer and interpret a personality inventory and learn the purpose, basics of interpretation, and rules of administration of various assessment instruments included: Intelligence tests, personality instruments, projective tests, neuropsychological tests, and disorder specific tests.
COUN6463 Clinical Issues of Aging, Death and Dying
Issues of aging, death and dying from a multidisciplinary perspective. This complex field encompasses a wide range of human experiences, emotions, expectations, and realities. This course provides a historical, cultural, biological, sociological, psychological, and spiritual perspective of aging, death, and dying in our society and around the world. Information and skills needed to address ethical and legal concerns related to palliative and end-of-life care will be presented. Palliative care focuses on symptom control and amelioration of suffering, which are often underemphasized in conventional healthcare training. Theories of grieving and the grief reaction, as well as the empiricallybased therapeutic interventions available to support and care for the bereaved are covered in this course.
COUN6533 Intervention for Individuals and Families in Crisis and Trauma
Competent professional counselors need to use methods for the practical application of research for professional development in the wider range of human issues and psychopathology. By discovering and providing research-supported information regarding a range of problems, students will become proficient in developing famillies confonted with crises and trauma. The range of problem situations and psychopathological issues include: Issues impacting marriages (financial, work, dual-careers, in-laws, affairs, partner in prison, disasters, abortion); Children in the family (having children, children rearing practices, living together); singleness, separation, divorce, second marriages and beyond, blended families, step-parenting, ex-spouse, being a custodial parent, losing custody, family violence and spousal abuse (physical and sexual abuse, child abuse and neglect), addictions and substance abuse, chronic illness, hospitalizations, dying partner, effect of partner death, effect of a child's death, gay and lesbian relationships, impact of mental illness, suicide and para-suicidal behavior, homicidality, bullying, adolescent acting out behavior, sexuality and issues of desire, sexual dysfunction, impact of unemployment and under-employment, impact of changes in the socioeconomic standing of the family.
COUN6633 Addiction and Chemical Dependency Counseling
This course will examine the historical foundations of chemical dependency counseling along with the theoretical and practical acuisition of Models of Addiction and Recovery. Alcoholism and substance abuse; readiness to change; counseling methods, tests and assessments for chemical dependency; and specific knowledge of alcohol and drug research will be a focus of this course. Potential for co-occurring disorders will be explored along with the negative impacts of addiction on famillies, marriages and couples. Strategies will be examined to reduce the negative effects of substance use dependence and to help clients identify the impact of addiction on life, the effects of continued harmful use of abuse, and the benefits of a life without addiction. To achieve this, students will evaluate and identify individualized strategies and treatment for different populations as well as client stages of dependence and change on recovery.
COUN6733 Child/Adolescent Psychopathology and Counseling
Students performing differential diagnoses of disorders of childhood and adolescents according to the current DSM, explaining the disorder with an understanding of normative and non-normatice aspects of development, and demonstrating the adaptation of a range of counseling theories specifically for working with that population is the primary purpose of this course. Students will examine the principles and practices of developmental psychopathology to comprehend the maladaptive patterns of emotion, cognition, and behavior in order to formulate treatment plans that promote resilience and optimum development and wellness. Students will apply theoretical models and intervention strategies to address an array of developmental, educational, personal, social, and behavioral problems to include such issues as the following: Disasters, crisis, trauma, death, violence, divorce, substance abuse, victimization of abuse, or debilitating medical conditions.
COUN6833 Group Dynamics and Counseling
Applying the various theoretical models to group counseling and analyzing group dynamics in a therapeutic setting is important for the professional counselor. Students will extensively study the basic elements of group process, deal with ethical and professional issues special to group work, and determine how to apply key concepts and techniques of approaches to group counseling. Students will participate in an applied lab activity to experience the group process to acquire skills in group psychotherapy methods and demonstrate effective facilitation of a counseling group. Methods for receiving referrals, adapting groups to various settings, assessing appropriate membership, and preparing participants for receiving appropriate benefits from the group process will be presented.
COUN6953 Practicum/Internship for Marital, C ouples & Family Counseling/Therapy
Supervised clinical experience and practice in performing fieldwork in the Marital, Couples, and Family Therapy degree program as approved by the School Chair or Program Director. The Practicum / Internship occurs concurrently with course work and follows guidelines set forth in licensure preparation and CACREP standards. The Practicum/ Internship will total a minimum of 700 hours of service: 100 hour for Practicum over a minimum of a 10-week period and a minimum of 600 hours for Internship. Maximum totals can be increased to accommodate various state practicum requirements for online students.
COUN6956 Practicum/Internship for Marital, C ouples & Family Counseling/Therapy
Supervised clinical experience and practice in performing fieldwork in the Marital, Couples, and Family Therapy degree program as approved by the School Chair or Program Director. The Practicum / Internship occurs concurrently with course work and follows guidelines set forth in licensure preparation and CACREP standards. The Practicum/ Internship will total a minimum of 700 hours of service: 100 hour for Practicum over a minimum of a 10-week period and a minimum of 600 hours for Internship. Maximum totals can be increased to accommodate various state practicum requirements for online students.
COUN6959 Practicum/Internship for Marital, C ouples & Family Counseling/Therapy
Supervised clinical experience and practice in performing fieldwork in the Marital, Couples, and Family Therapy degree program as approved by the School Chair or Program Director. The Practicum / Internship occurs concurrently with course work and follows guidelines set forth in licensure preparation and CACREP standards. The Practicum/ Internship will total a minimum of 700 hours of service: 100 hour for Practicum over a minimum of a 10-week period and a minimum of 600 hours for Internship. Maximum totals can be increased to accommodate various state practicum requirements for online students.
COUN6973 Practicum
Supervised clinical experience and practice in counseling fieldwork in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Addictions and Substance Abuse Counseling, or Martial, Couples, and Family Therapy (depending on the student’s degree emphasis) as approved by the School Chair. The Practicum occurs concurrently with course work and follows guidelines set forth in licensure preparation and CACREP standards. The Practicum will total a minimum of 100 hours of over a minimum of a 10-week period.
COUN6983 Internship
Advanced supervised clinical experience and practice in counseling fieldwork in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Addictions and Substance Abuse Counseling, or Martial, Couples, and Family Therapy (depending on the student’s degree emphasis) as approved by the School Chair. The Internship occurs concurrently with course work and follows guidelines set forth in licensure preparation and CACREP standards. The Internship will total a minimum of 600 hours of service. Minimum totals can be increased to accommodate various state practicum requirements for online students.

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