Denver Family Institute

MFT Program Curriculum

At DFI, we currently offer 16 core courses that will continue to evolve as the field of Marriage and Family Therapy evolves. As a training institute committed to practicing anti-oppression and social justice, each course has an emphasis on intersectionality and dynamics of power, priviledge, and oppression in the context of couples and family therapy. Each class will analyze intersection issues of oppression: sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism and ageism and how these dynamics impact our clients’ lives and the therapeutic process. 

A key component of the DFI training experience consists of clinical work done at the DFI Clinic. All students enrolled to complete the COAMFTE accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Training Certificate must complete a minimum of 400 direct clinical hours; up to 100 professional hours may be counted toward the required 500 hours.

First Year Courses

Offered on Wednesday evenings from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Joining, Assessment and Treatment Planning

(2 credit hours)

The central importance of joining skills and relationship building in working with individuals, couples and families. Using first sessions for effective assessment, goal setting/contracting with clients and treatment planning systemically.

Applied Ethics in Couples and Family Therapy

(2 credit hours)

Risk management, professional development, self care and working with complex ethical issues commonly faced in a variety of clinical settings. Builds upon and goes beyond graduate school ethics coursework. Includes a guest lecture by an experienced attorney specializing in mental health practice legalities and ethics.

Family Studies I

(3 credit hours)

Theoretical foundations of family therapy and their application. Students build on any previous family therapy training by learning to assess families from core family therapy models and develop interventions from those views.

Family Studies II

(2 credit hours)

This course continues (from Family Studies I) to introduce family systems models. This course also begins exploring feminist and cultural/contextual models of family therapy, integrating theory, practice and skill development. Content includes current family structures, how different family therapy theories define normal family processes, and how they assess families. The Common Factors Model of therapeutic success will be explored along with these specific Family System models: Experiential/Communication (Satir), , Solution-Focused, Narrative and Social Justice/Feminist.

Relational Treatment of Substance Abuse with Couples and Families

(2 credit hours)

Focuses on the development of skills needed for working in multidisciplinary settings. Emphasis will be on integrating Family Systems Therapy and Individually based Substance Abuse Treatment.

Families and Play Therapy: Assessment and Interventions

(2 credit hours)

Learn how to increase the effectiveness of family therapy by using play to integrate children into sessions.

Self of the Therapist

(2 credit hours)

Uses person centered, experiential, somatic experiencing, existential, and mindfulness based theories to help develop the emotional intelligence of the student therapists. One assumption of this class is that the emotional intelligence of the therapist directly impacts therapeutic outcomes.

Second Year Courses

Offered on Tuesday evenings from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Couples Studies I: Foundations in Working with Couples

(2 credit hours)

Introduction to the complexity of couples counseling, theoretical foundations in Bowenian theory and differentiation. Increasing therapist differentiation and ability to deal with and be in conflict, avoiding triangulation.

Couples Studies II: Couples and Sex Therapy

(2 credit hours)

This course teaches students to see how sexual issues occur in most couples seeking therapy and how to integrate marital and sexual therapy in their work.

Trauma and Attachment Problems in Families: A Systemic Approach

(2 credit hours)

This course will give students a solid understanding of the impact that early developmental trauma has on children’s development and subsequent attachment relationships.

Couples Studies III: Couples and Emotions

(2 credit hours)

Understanding couples in primary, committed or attachment relationships based on their attachment dance and the primacy of emotions.

Sexual Diversity, Attitudes and Behaviors

(2 credit hours)

A course on the rich breadth and depth of the human sexual experience. The overarching focus will be on sexual minority populations, gender non-conformity and a multitude of diverse sexual behaviors.

Systemic Treatment of Trauma in Adults

(2 credit hours)

This course identifies different trauma topics and encourages students to view trauma-informed care within their own theories of change. Students then practice relational therapy addressing these topics within their own models.


(3 credit hours)

Pulling coursework together as a capstone to the program experience, students integrate various models learned and practiced in courses and clinical work. Students must demonstrate the ability to develop systemic hypotheses on which they do their clinical work on cases.

DFI is Approved by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) to provide Continuing Education credits to DFI students for two of our courses. DFI students receive 17.5 AASECT CEs (per course) for completing Sexual Diversity and Couples and Sex Therapy for a total of 35 AASECT CEs.

Interested in learning more about DFI’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program?

Are you ready to take the next step and join our incoming cohort?