Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 12–23 | Cite as

How Is Contextual Therapy Applied Today? An Analysis of the Practice of Current Contextual Therapists

  • Jaap van der MeidenEmail author
  • Martine Noordegraaf
  • Hans van Ewijk
Original Paper


Contextual therapy focusses on restoring and enhancing relationships, based on its paradigm of relational ethics, presuming a human tendency for reciprocal care. It is precisely in a time of stressed relationships that this focus on strengthening humanity is of great importance. This article presents the first study on the application of this paradigm into concrete interventions of 12 current contextual therapists, answering the question: How do contextual therapists apply the contextual theory and therapy into concrete interventions? Using the Thematic Analysis, 14 therapy sessions were analyzed, revealing a typical working-method and eight characteristic categories of interventions. The findings of this qualitative research reveal a consistent working-method and several recognizable contextual elements. These may contribute to further integrating the paradigm of relational ethics in family therapy and developing a contemporary contextual guideline for therapy. It also provides a conditional step for investigating the efficacy of contextual therapy, for evidence-based research, and for further development of the methodology of contextual therapy.


Contextual therapy Relational ethics Intergenerational therapy Family therapy Qualitative research 



We would like to acknowledge the Dutch National Scientific Foundation (NWO), for funding this project (project number 023.004.047). Furthermore, we are grateful for the cooperation of the participating therapists and clients by giving permission to use recordings of their therapy sessions, by which they have made this research possible.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Christian University of Applied Sciences EdeEdeThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University of Humanistic StudiesUtrechtThe Netherlands

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