Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 329–341 | Cite as

Couple and Family Therapy Within the Current Pan-Canadian Context

Original Paper


Canadians take numerous approaches to couple and family therapy due in part to Canada’s diversity of people and geography, as well as the influence of the health care context, a central facet of our national identity. Tracing back to Nathan Epstein, the founder of family therapy in Canada, there continues to be a strong tradition of couple and family therapy within Canada which has international reach. Formal training in family therapy, as well as couple/marital therapy occurs largely outside of the scope of degree granting programs and university settings. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy has a strong presence in Canada, with six divisions across the country. Popular models of practice for Canada’s couple and family therapists include cognitive-behavioral therapy, solution-focused therapy, narrative therapy, emotionally-focused therapy, and Bowenian/intergenerational therapy. A growing number of training opportunities are becoming available across Canada, and the practice of couple and family therapy is becoming institutionalized as one of the core competencies for professions such as psychiatry. In this article, we examine the context of family therapy in Canada by examining its history, the unique accreditation standards, qualifications and organizations associated with family therapy, the relationship between couple and family therapy, and future directions for this field of practice.


Couple therapy Marital therapy Family therapy Canada 



We would like to thank the following who acted as key informants for this Project and generously shared their time for in-depth interviews: Dr. John Beaton Ph.D., Professor, Couple and Family Therapy Program, University of Guelph; Dr. Sharon Bond, Ph.D., RMFT, Associate Professor, McGill Family Therapy Program, Montreal, Quebec; Dr. Sue Johnson, Ph.D., Director, Ottawa Couple and Family Institute; Dr. Heather Hair, Ph.D., RMFT, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Memorial University, St. John’s Newfoundland; Dr. Heather MacIntosh, Ph.D., C Psych, Assistant Professor, McGill School of Social Work, Montreal Quebec; Ms. Gail Palmer, MSW, RMFT, Ottawa Couple and Family Institute, Ottawa, Ontario; Ms. Sharon Ramsay, MDiv, RMFT, in-coming president OAMFT, Toronto, Ontario; Dr. John Smith, Ph.D., RMFT, Director Aurora Family Therapy Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Mr. Andrew Sofin, MA, RMFT, President of the Quebec Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Montreal, Quebec; Ms. Brenda Spitzer, M.Sc., RMFT, President of the Ontario Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Guelph, Ontario; Dr. Karl Tomm, MD, Director of the Calgary Family Therapy Program, Calgary, Alberta; Ms. Shauna Walker, M.Sc., Hinton Friendship Centre, Hinton, Alberta; and additional informants who requested anonymity.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Work and Department of PsychiatryDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Resilience Research Centre, School of Social WorkDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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