A secondary school course in family psychology

Carolyn Fried Sutton, Pace University


The focus of this project is a course in family psychology for high school juniors and seniors. The teaching of psychology in the high school can trace its origins back over a century and has become increasingly widespread over the past several decades. Psychology as a subject is now offered in the majority of high schools. This has been recognized by the APA, which has been expanding its involvement in high school psychology over the past decade. High school psychology has recently been approved for advanced placement, which will most likely lead to improved training and certification of high school psychology teachers and increased status of psychology as a high school subject. Despite the numerous courses now given, current offerings do not include a course about the study of the family. As high school psychology continues to expand, this proposed course would fill a need for additional psychology courses as well as provide knowledge about the family to adolescents at a time when they are likely to have a heightened interest and need for such information. Family psychology is defined here as the study of the family as a unit, its functions, structure, organization, development, and interaction. The course is set in a framework of psychology as a scientific field of study and addresses issues of theory, research, and applications as they apply to the study of families. The goals of the curriculum are: (1) Illustrate the way that families and family functioning can be studied and conceptualized in terms of theory, research, and applications. (2) Teach students about the family, its forms and variations, and its development in terms of structure and functioning across time. (3) Provide students with conceptual frameworks in which to organize thoughts, perceptions, and experiences that relate to themselves and others in the context of families. This Psy.D. project considers high school psychology and the literature regarding adolescent-family relations in light of adolescent cognitive and developmental readiness for a family psychology course. The project provides the basis for the teaching of the course, presents a family psychology curriculum, and addresses issues of evaluation and implementation.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Curricula|Teaching|Psychology

Recommended Citation

Sutton, Carolyn Fried, "A secondary school course in family psychology" (1992). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9212386.



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