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Family Studies Concentration

  • Credits:

Concentration Description

The undergraduate concentration in Family Studies provides the knowledge and skills needed by practitioners to work effectively with the many demands families today are facing. Our emphasis on building on strengths and respecting and valuing what is important to families while providing care in a culturally humble way, serves to empower families as students learn how to assist them in the changes they are seeking. Students who focus in this area often go on to further studies in human growth and development, human services, social work, marriage and family therapy, and family policy. Students may focus on working with families or family members, on family development, advocacy, case management, or policy.

A Key Element in Your Bachelor’s Degree.  The Family Studies concentration is accepted in any Cambridge College bachelor’s degree, as open electives. It is often of interest to students doing a bachelor’s degree in human services or psychology. It also provides valuable understandings to students in other fields whose work touches families.

Program Outcomes

  • Understanding and basic knowledge of major theories, concepts and processes relating to families and working with them
  • Understanding of a variety of perspectives regarding mental health, social and cultural influences, and economic impacts on families

Careers and Further Study

Our students go on to graduate study in psychology, counseling, social work, human services and related fields.  

The health and human service industry has been identified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as an area of increasing growth in the 21st century. Students concentrating in Family Studies may find themselves working and leading in a variety of settings: with adolescents in residential programs or with the elderly in nursing homes, in the community or in health centers, as program directors, as case managers or outreach workers. They work in prevention or in treatment, in after-school programs or criminal justice programs.


Also choose one BHS elective course (3 credits).

Understanding Family & Community Systems
BHS 315 3 credit(s)
This course builds on systems thinking by applying systemic concepts to understand the makeup and functioning of families and communities. Students review the characteristics and interrelationships among family and community systems, and learn how to assess their respective strengths, resources, needs, and coping strategies. Local community issues impacting families, such as kinds of employment opportunities and unifying traditions on the one hand, and violence and discrimination on the other, are addressed. Students use assessment models to look at their own life situations such as job, family, neighborhood. Students interact with their peers and others seeking to make an impact with families and communities.
Family Interventions
BHS 366 3 credit(s)
How workers intervene with families matters. This course focuses on strategies for engaging families. Students learn how to apply a strengths-based approach in helping families achieve their goals. Students will learn from others in the field who work directly with families in a variety of situations. The Family Development Curriculum (FDC) for working with families fulfills the requirement for this course.
Family Life Cycle
BHS 400 3 credit(s)
Theories of growth and development are introduced and applied to the study of individuals and families. The impact of socioeconomic, cultural, ethnic, and social issues on the life cycle is discussed, emphasizing the diversity of developmental schemas. Physical, moral, cognitive, behavioral, and psychosocial development of individuals are addressed in the context of family development. Students trace developmental patterns and identify factors which facilitate or impede growth, using examples from their personal and professional lives.
Families with Special Needs
BHS 430 3 credit(s)
Students learn about the biological, situational, and psycho-social conditions defined as “special needs,” and analyze their impact on families, communities, and other childhood environments. The history of governmental response and current laws and regulations applicable to this area are reviewed. Students become familiar with the com­ponents of individual and community programs that address special needs, including assessment and rehabilitation planning and the design of appropriate environments. Concepts of “family focus” and “family practice” are emphasized, and students hear from and interact with a number of community experts. Students develop a case study, either individually or in a group, to be presented in professionally written form and orally, in class.
Ethical Issues in Working With Families
BHS 365 3 credit(s)
This course explores current ethical issues that are common when working with families in a human service setting, such as child and elder abuse reporting, mandatory treatment, involuntary treatment, duty to warn requirements, research, and privacy. In addition, six areas of ethical concern are covered, including: professionals’ competence, confidentiality, accountability, client welfare, emotional health/personal wellness, and financial concerns. Students begin to understand various aspects of ethical debates, as well as the foundations the arguments are based on. The goal of this class is to increase awareness of the ethical issues within human services and develop a broader understanding of the debates. The ultimate goal is to prepare students to address client needs more holistically and to engage in public discourse on the issues.
Family Mediation Techniques
PSY 409 1 credit(s)
Conflicts among family members are particularly stressful for adolescents. This course offers techniques for successful mediation of family disputes. Emphasis is placed upon introduction of strong communication skills for family members. The role of the mediator is presented as an unbiased facilitator in the family’s attempt to resolve conflict.
Domestic Violence: Risks, Trends, Resources
BHS300 1 credit(s)

Domestic violence*, also referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV), affects men, women and children of all races and social and economic levels. In 2008 domestic violence reached epidemic proportions and was declared a public health emergency in Massachusetts (Comm of MA, 2015). This course will examine recent statistical trends in reported cases of IPV, the identified risks and behaviors that may serve as cautionary indicators in relationships, and the personal, community and legislative resources available to those who are subject to physical and psychological violence. Students will be guided in exploring their personal attitudes toward domestic violence, violence and gender as well as social acceptance of psychological violence. The role of the human service professional in working with families impacted by domestic violence will be explored.

*Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically.