Counseling for Relationship Distress

This course provides an overview of evidence-based, theologically-sound relationship counseling strategies for working with couples, families and groups.

Intended Outcomes

  • You will understand:
    • An integrated view of human development that is based on social science research and biblical truths.
    • A pastor’s role in caring for the mental end relational needs within the church.
    • The etiology and treatment of various forms of relational distress.
  • You will appreciate:
    • That reciprocating relationships with God and other humans are of major importance in negotiating the developmental issues across the lifespan.
    • The role of forgiveness and reconciling in relieving the pain of hurtful relationships, both past and present.
    • How Emotion Focused Therapy can be applied to address relational distress in a variety of contexts.
  • You will be able to:
    • Explain how to foster reciprocating relationships throughout the lifespan.
    • Successfully defend a plan for developing and implementing a successful counseling ministry within the local church.
    • Conceptualize counseling cases in a theologically-sensitive framework.

Assignment Overview

Students report spending 6-8 hours on homework as a weekly average.

  • Four papers, one on each of the main textbooks. The purpose of these papers is to demonstrate understanding of the reading and ability to assimilate what you’ve learned and to reinforce the knowledge, values, and skills gained from the reading.
  • Pre- and post-course reflection papers. These will give you a chance to measure your own growth as a result of this class.
  • Regularly assigned textbook and article readings.
  • Weekly discussion forums on a prompt from the professor.
  • Weekly live synchronous video class meetings.


Dr. Andrew Graham
Andrew Graham


  • The Reciprocating Self: Human Development in Theological Perspective (2nd edition) by Jack O. Balswick, Pamela Ebstyne King, and Kevin S. Reimer.
  • Forgiveness and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope by Everett L. Worthington, Jr.
  • Attachment Theory in Practice: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) with Individuals, Couples, and Families by Susan M. Johnson.

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