Are you interested in working with families and diverse clients in a variety of direct-service, private- practice and family-policy settings? A master’s degree in social work with a concentration in Family Systems Practice will give you the preparation you need for a career in family systems and family therapy.

We’ll prepare you to work with individuals, couples, families, organizations, constituencies and communities, and to evaluate social systems for bias and cultural responsiveness in a wide variety of settings, including mental health and family services agencies, child welfare, legal systems, schools, treatment centers, private practice and community social service agencies. You also will learn to use multisystemic assessments and interventions to alleviate client distress. As you develop an awareness of the systems that create power imbalances and oppression, you’ll reflect on your personal bias and positionality, cultural bias, assumptions, values and affective reactions that may influence your relationship with families.

Craig Hall building

Denver Campus Info Sessions

Virtual Information Session: During this session, we will discuss the MSW program, admissions process and financial aid options. There will also be a Q&A where you can chat with current students about their experience at GSSW. 

In-Person Information Session: We are hosting three in-person information sessions where we will discuss the MSW program, field internships, student schedules, living in Denver and more. Attendees will also take a tour of GSSW and the University of Denver. After the tour, prospective students and guests will receive tickets for a complimentary lunch at DU's Community Commons.

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Your Career Options

Family Systems Practice offers employment opportunities in a wide variety of fields, including clinical, administrative and academic settings. Family therapy is a field that’s projected to grow by nearly 20 percent in less than a decade. With an MSW concentration in Family Systems Practice, your social work career could include:

  • Providing individual psychotherapy and couples, family and group therapy
  • Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders
  • Develop and lead community programs 
  • Developing culturally responsive social work practice skills with families
  • Provide behavioral health and recovery-based services in hospitals and medical centers
  • Provide family service delivery in schools, communities, family court, home-based and military settings
  • Work as family policy advocate for regional, national and global social policy change

Because the U.S. government recognizes family therapists as qualified mental health providers, and family therapists are eligible to participate in a number of federal compensation and grant programs.

The focus of social justice within the curriculum, paired with the professors’ approaches, helped hone my interventions with family systems, allowing me to be a change agent with families.

Adam Tannenbaum, MSW ’15, Clinical Supervisor and Program Manager, Adolescent Substance Abuse Program, Denver Family Therapy Center Read More
Adam Tannenbaum

Learn more about the Family Systems Practice curriculum.


Explore some of our field education locations with a focus on Family Systems

  • Judi's House

    Judi’s House is a comprehensive grief center serving children, young adults and their parents or caregivers. The center serves individuals who are grieving a death loss of any kind — including illness, suicide, homicide and accidental death — through group counseling facilitated by licensed mental health professionals and graduate-level interns.

  • Denver Family Therapy Center

    The Denver Family Therapy Center hosts the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program — an intensive outpatient substance-use program for adolescents. The center takes a systemic family systems therapy approach to treating adolescents who are experiencing issues related to substance use. Interns gain experience in family, individual and group therapy, as well as substance-use treatment. Interns also learn and participate in administrative duties, including billing, managed care and marketing.

  • Warren Village

    Warren Village is a transitional housing program designed to promote personal and economic self-sufficiency for low-income, single-parent families. It integrates affordable housing, supportive family services, life-skills classes, college-to-career development, housing and financial coaching, and onsite child care. Interns participate in case management and family advocacy, conduct biopsychosocial assessment interviews, gain knowledge about community resources and lead life-skills classes.

  • Denver Indian Family Resource Center

    The Denver Indian Family Resource Center strengthens vulnerable American Indian and Alaska Native children and families through collaborative and culturally responsive services. Interns work with families with histories of trauma exposure.

  • Jefferson County Head Start

    Head Start is a no-cost, comprehensive, child-focused and family-centered preschool program for children ages 3–5. It adheres to trauma-informed practices and provides a range of individualized services in the areas of education, early childhood development, medical, dental, mental health, nutrition, family support and parent education. Interns provide mental health services to children in Head Start and consult with parents and teachers to support the social-emotional development of children.

Key Faculty

Stephen von Merz

Stephen von Merz

Clinical Associate Professor; Adjunct & Curriculum Coord

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Jennifer Bellamy

Jenn Lee Bellamy

Professor; Associate Dean, Research

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Debora Ortega

Deb Marie Ortega

Professor and Director, University of Denver Latino Center for Community Engagement and Scholarship

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Application Information

Upcoming Final Application Deadline: Summer 2023 Denver Campus Advanced-Standing MSW Program