Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Clinical Psychology Competencies

pp 1655-1684

Family Issues

  • Alyson WilliamsAffiliated withPacific University
  • , Jessica BoltonAffiliated withPacific University


The aim of the present chapter is to discuss basic and expert competencies for effectively treating children and adolescents with family-related difficulties. Critical to developing competencies in any area involves an appreciation for gaps in knowledge; therefore, limitations to the current state of generalist training with regard to family issues are briefly outlined. The authors promote a systems theory approach for assessment and treatment that hinges on thoughtful consideration of the context in which an individual and family is embedded. Specifically, a number of conceptual and practical elements of assessment are highlighted, such as theoretical underpinnings, important domains of inquiry, and complementary forms of measurement. With regard to treatment, it is suggested that by adopting a systems-oriented conceptualization of the presenting problem, the therapist will engender a better understanding of maintenance factors and be better equipped to facilitate necessary change. While the authors promote evidence-based practice, training clinicians and supervisors alike are admonished to balance their empirical stance with a relational warmth and thoughtful creativity that can easily become neglected. To summarize, several suggestions germane to facilitating a fluid transition from novice to expert practitioner are discussed.