Master of Counselling Specialising in Couple and Family Therapy

Master of Counselling Specialising in Couple and Family Therapy
Relational problems are rising among couples, children and their families in Singapore. These problems are often presented at Family Service Centres, Child Guidance Clinics and Psychological Medical Departments in hospitals. Given the increasing clinical demands for trained counsellors in this area, the specialisation track in Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) will be offered within the existing Master of Counselling and Master of Social Work programmes.

The Master of Counselling-CFT and Master of Social Work-CFT programmes will focus on achieving a higher quality of training and clinical competency of its therapists. The programme will equip graduates with clinical skills that will effectively address, manage and treat relationship problems in couples, as well as parent-child issues, arising from childhood developmental problems.
Applicants should be Singapore citizens, permanent residents or residents in Singapore.

In addition, you will need to meet these minimum requirements:
• An undergraduate degree in Counselling or an equivalent qualification from a recognised institution
• Good communication skills (written and spoken English)
• At least two years of work experience preferably in counselling couples and families
• At least 21 years and above

Applicants must complete and submit an online application to Singapore University of Social Sciences by the specified deadline.

Shortlisted candidates may be required to undergo one or more interviews and/or take such written admission or other evaluation tests as may be prescribed by Singapore University of Social Sciences. The offer of admission is dependent on the number of places available in individual programmes.

The decision of the Admissions Committee of Singapore University of Social Sciences is final and binding. Singapore University of Social Sciences reserves the right to refuse admission and is not obliged to offer an explanation for the non-admission of unsuccessful candidates.

Click here​​​​ to view the programme curriculum

Next Available Intake
July 2018

Application Closing Date
31 March 2018

Tuition Fee
For current tuition fee, click here.
How does the Master of Counselling specialising in Couple and Family Therapy (MCOU-CFT) enhance a career in counselling or social work?

Prospective graduate students contemplating a MCOU-CFT degree are probably practising counsellors, or social workers involved in counselling work. Having acquired this Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) specialisation, it will broaden their repertoire of clinical skills needed to treat couples and families with emotional and relational issues. Couple and family therapy skills are higher form of clinical skill set, ideal for counsellors/social workers/clinicians who already possess individual counselling skills. Thus, CFT graduates will be in a much better position to train and supervise other counsellors/social workers, equipping them with the necessary therapeutic skills to address and treat individuals, and members of the family from a systemic perspective. These CFT graduates may also take up managerial and clinical leadership role in their agencies/organisations.

Is there a need for couple and family therapists? Why?

We are social beings, and we cannot but communicate. In our communication, we often hold different views and opinions about a given situation, which may give rise to certain misunderstanding and disagreements, especially among those in close relationship, like couples and family members. Given the stresses of work, social and family demands, couples do face different challenges/difficulties in their relationship. Hence, they may need a therapist specially trained in clinical and relational skills to help them better manage those challenges/difficulties.

Furthermore, with the rise in childhood developmental issues (e.g., ADHD, ADD, behavioural and emotional problems, like depression and self-harm), these have to be treated more effectively by systemic couple and family therapists. These therapists are trained to engage and get parent(s) to support and assist in the treatment process of the child, especially when the child is at home. Thus, CFT therapists possess those relational and clinical skills to effectively engage parents to better manage/handle their child with developmental issue(s).

What is taught in this MCOU-CFT programme?

The trainee therapists have to complete 6 core CFT courses, which consists of Advanced Couple and Family Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy for Couples (EFT), Minuchin Family Therapy, CFT Supervised Practicum, Narrative Therapy, Medical Family Therapy, or Gottman Couples Therapy. For more information, please visit

In the initial years, this programme hopes to invite known CFT experts from Hong Kong, Taiwan, S. Korea, Japan, Australia, as well as the United States to conduct some of these courses at Singapore University of Social Sciences, so as to enhance the clinical competency of its CFT graduates.

What are the evidence-based practices in this programme?

Evidence-based practices refer to the process of using research to inform clinical work with clients. The MCOU-CFT programme will employ evidence-based practices, where research findings as well as practical experience are used to inform the clinical decisions that best addresses the needs of the couples and families in therapy. Over the years, the research findings of John Gottman, Sue Johnson and colleagues in couple relationship are incorporated in Gottman Couples Therapy, and Emotion-Focused Therapy for Couples respectively. Likewise, the clinical experience and research work on families by Salvador Minuchin and Lee Wai-Yung are weaved into Minuchin Family Therapy.

Could you give examples of specific things students need to know to be a couple or family therapist?

A couple and family therapist needs to appreciate the complexity of working with couples and family from a systemic perspective. Has a good understanding of her/his own family-of-origin influences on her therapeutic work so as to avoid counter-transference in therapy, be culturally sensitive to the different couples and families coming for help, understand that relationship issues/problems are often challenging and demanding (no quick solution since the problem often originated years ago, and it will take more than one or two therapy sessions to resolve), and there is always "more than meet the eyes", e.g., extra-marital affair, co-parenting responsibilities, personality and gender differences, where hearing from one spouse is only 50% of the reality regarding a given situation.

What are the key differences between couple and family therapy and other forms of therapy?

Couple and family therapists are experts in relational issues, skilled in facilitating the healing process for distressed couples and families from a systemic perspective. These systemic CFT therapists have a sound working knowledge of couple relationship and issues including family interactions/dynamics. Couple and family therapy is short-term systemic therapy, usually it takes about 4-8 sessions. Relational issues or problems in couples and families are interconnected and interrelated. Therefore, to treat these issues/problems, couple and family therapy addresses those who influenced and are affected by the distressed individual(s). Emotional wounds are often caused by individuals in relationship, therefore those individuals need to help heal each other's wounds along the therapeutic process. And the healing of these wounds may begin in the therapy session, and hopefully continues beyond the therapy room. The CFT therapist will facilitate this healing process, which happen "here and now" in the therapy room.

What kind of students are you looking for, in terms of personal attributes and goals?

Trainee couple and family therapists must enjoy working with couples and families, despite the many challenges and difficulties in relationship issues. Able to "hold" the couple/family in moment of doubts and emotional struggles, and create a "safe place" for therapy/healing to happen, as well as instil hope in couples and families. Have a good sense of oneself, as in the "person-of-the-therapist", acknowledging one's abilities, strengths and limitations. Have the ability for work and capacity to love,
including not taking oneself too seriously in this work, trusting that individuals, couples and families have the inner strengths and resources to help themselves.

Can those with full-time jobs also take up this course?

The Master of Counselling (MCOU), and MCOU specialising in CFT are designed for full-time working professionals, who are willing to spend one day a week (whole day of Saturday) over a period of 2 years. Thus, these programmes are meant for all full-time working professionals, who desire to pursue this challenging but enriching graduate studies at Singapore University of Social Sciences, for their career advancement and clinical service to the wider community in Singapore
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