Why Does a Systemic Psychotherapy ‘Work’?



Systemic family therapy is a key psychotherapy approach taken to work with children and their families within Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) settings (see Kiyimba & O’Reilly, Chapter 30, this volume). Within publicly funded settings, psychotherapy has been increasingly scrutinised in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in order to determine whether support for this provision is warranted by the evidence. In so doing, the randomised controlled trial (RCT) has become positioned as the ‘gold standard’ for evidence of ‘what works’ in psychotherapy. Indeed, the question of what constitutes evidence in the psychotherapies has become highly politicised. In the United Kingdom, those therapies that have been shown in ‘good quality’ RCTs to be effective are selected by the watchdog National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for public funding. Consequently, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the treatment of choice in the UK government’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.


Family Therapy Therapeutic Relationship Conversation Analysis Psychotherapy Research Lexical Choice 
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Recommended reading

  1. • Heritage, J. (1997). Conversation analysis and institutional talk. In D. Silverman (Ed.), Qualitative research: Theory, method and practice (pp. 161–182). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. • MacNamee, S., & Gergen, K.J. (1992). Therapy as social construction. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  3. • Wampold, B. E. (2001). The great psychotherapy debate: Models, methods and findings. Manwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar

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© Sim Roy-Chowdhury 2015

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