The Contemporary Scence: Theory and Research

Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 39-52

First online:

Therapeutic change in couples' therapy: Critical change incidents perceived by therapists and clients

  • Linda WarkAffiliated withDepartment of Family Relations and Human Development, The Ohio State University

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Clients' perceptions of change in therapy have been virtually ignored in research on therapeutic change. An initial study was conducted which examined client couples' and their therapists' views of change in couples' therapy using the Critical Incident Technique. The data were analyzed inductively, and categories emerged which provide initial descriptions of important positive and negative events of therapy. The findings indicated that therapists' views of what was helpful and not helpful to therapeutic change diverged greatly from their clients' views. Implications for therapy are discussed.