IMH103 - Dynamics of the Family

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-07-20 12:14:27.375
Last review date 2018-07-20 12:15:19.566

Subject Title
Dynamics of the Family

Subject Description
This course is designed for students to examine families within their social context.  Students will examine theories related to family growth and development from a mental health perspective.  This will support the students' personal and professional awareness of the potential impact of family history and culture on lifelong relationships and positive mental health.  Students will begin to identify the signs, symptoms and structures of positive mental health within a family context.

Credit Status
IMH 103 is a process course.  Students are required to attend a minimum of 75% of face to face classes in order to be eligible to earn a passing grade.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:


  1. Analyze the influence of the social, emotional, economic, and cultural circumstance on the functionality of families with young children.
  2. Compare various theorists and their descriptions of family dynamics, focusing on the impact on infants.
  3. Determine the signs and symptoms of families with infants in need of additional support.
  4. Explain the influence of diverse family backgrounds when developing relationships with families with infants and young children.
  5. Critique traditional approaches to serving diverse families with young children in a variety of settings.

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.

Topic Outline

  • Defining family in a social political context
    • Diverse family structures, including:
      • Transnational infancy
      • Custody and shared parenting
      • Adoption
    • Our own biases
    • Caregiver and child relationships
  • Family theories including some of:
    • Symbolic Interactionism
    • Structural Functionalism
    • Family Development
    • Family Stress
    • Conflict Theory
    • Social Exchange
    • Feminist Theory
    • Biosocial theories
  • Understanding the family dynamics that result in an increased risk to infant mental health
    • Maternal depression
    • Family violence
    • Failure to thrive
    • Child abuse
    • Quality of caregiving
    • Previous traumas
  • Factors that affect family dynamics
    • Social determinants of health
    • Adverse childhood experience study
    • Available social supports
    • Social media
    • relationships

Prescribed Texts
Janko Summers, Susan & Chazan-Cohen, Rachel (2012) Understanding early childhood mental health.  A practical guide for professionals. Brookes Publishing

Zeanah, Charles (2012) Handbook of infant mental health. (3rd edition) Guildford Press

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online ( or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation
Please Note:    It is the students’ responsibility to keep copies of materials (assignments, etc.) used for evaluative purposes
Due Dates and Extensions
Due dates for the assignments and other evaluation procedures for each subject are set in class. Requests for extensions must be made to the professor before the due date. Many professors require written requests and approval forms for extensions.
Each professor will use their own discretion within the following guidelines: Late assignments may be penalized up to 10% of the grade or one full grade (whichever is less) starting the first day after the assignment is due. Each subsequent week, a further 10% may be deducted starting on the first day of that week.
Absence during scheduled tests and presentations require a medical note. Failure to meet these requirements will result in an F grade. Students are required to notify the professor before the scheduled test or presentation if they are unable to attend.
As a student at Seneca College, you are expected to read the College Academic Policy, College Student Handbook and the IMH Student Handbook.

Approved by: Sandra Noble