Models of Psychological Intervention in Families and in Networks

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1. To develop a basic theoretical grounding in systemic intervention approach that will guide the future psychological practice of the students.

2. To understand the evolution of family therapy.

3. To mobilize knowledge in the specific field of the curricular unit, integrating the different currents and schools, in order to synthesize its own positioning.

4. To reflect over the models of intervention in families and networks: their potential and limitations.

5. To create a portfolio of thoughts and material about the curricular unit, and to expose their criteria of selection of the material, critically justifying their analysis.


1. Epistemological Context prior to family therapy (input: Cybernetics, Mathematics of Information Theory and General Systems Theory)
2. Board Model (concepts, principles and implications for its treatment)
- Historical and epistemological aspects
3.Paradigm of systemic intervention
- Transgenerational, structural and strategic approaches
4.The family as a system (concept, structure, types, functions and boundaries of the family)
- Subsystems
- Family life cycle
- Communication in the family
- Construction of genograms
- New forms of family
5. Systemic therapy: theory and practice
- Different theories: principles and differences in conception and intervention (Bowen family systems therapy,
strategic and structural)
- From possibilities to articulation differences
- History of family therapy in Portugal
- Therapeutic process with the family
- Functions and roles of therapists and co-therapists
- From family therapy to systemic therapy
- Ethical and deontological issues

Teaching Methodologies

The methodology focuses on problem solving and critical discussion, through a learning environment that challenges students in their knowledge construction process. Therefore, students are involved in thematic reflection opportunities that assume many forms, such as the analysis and discussion of texts, the discussion of case studies and the construction of genograms. They are also involved in exploratory studies on families and networks. Their results are presented in the classroom, allowing the debate between the students and the acquisition of analysis skills and a reflexive attitude, promoting a meaningful learning process.


Alarcão, M. (2000). (Des)Equilíbrios familiares: Uma visão sistémica. Coimbra: Quarteto.
Alarcão, M. (1998). Família e redes sociais – Malha a malha se tece a teia. InterAcções, 7, 93-102.
Alarcão, M., & Relvas, A. P. (2002). Transformações na intervenção sistémica. Psychologica, 30, 57-68.
Dabas, E. N. (Ed.) (1995). Red de redes. Las prácticas de la intervención en redes sociales. Buenos Aires,Barcelona, México: Paidós.
Nichols, M. P., & Schwartz, R. C. (2007). Terapia familiar. Conceitos e métodos (7ª ed.). Porto Alegre: Artmed.
Relvas, A. P. (2003). Por detrás do espelho: Da teoria à terapia com a família. Coimbra: Quarteto.
Relvas, A. P. (1996). O ciclo vital da família: Perspectiva sistémica. Análise psicológica, 4 (14), 563-579.
Relvas, A. P., & Alarcão, M. (2002). Novas formas de família. Coimbra: Quarteto.
Souza, R. M., & Ramires, V. R. (2006). Amor, casamento, família, divórcio... e depois, segundo as crianças. Brasil: Summus.



ECTS Credits



  • Teóricas - 30 hours
  • Teórico-Práticas - 30 hours

Evaluation Methodology

  • Critical review of an article or a book chapter : 20%
  • Family case study (individual task): 40%
  • Research work: 40%