Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Research About Couple and Family Therapy

  • Thomas L. SextonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_137

Name of the Concept

Research in couple and family psychology


The research foundations of Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) span more than 45 years and are vast, multidimensional, and dynamic providing a strong foundation for clinical practice. Research by early pioneers focused established family therapy as an effective and clinically useful approach to treatment. This early focus has set the stage for a long and enduring history of clinical trial research focusing on the outcomes and effective processes of Couple and Family Therapy. The strong research foundation is a cornerstone of clinical practice and has helped establish the field as a viable and important one in the larger landscape of behavioral health care and psychotherapy. Currently research on the effectiveness of Couple and Family Therapy interventions is not only methodological complex and community-based helping unravel the complexities of family relationships and clinical change in real-life clinical contexts....

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Barbato, A., & D’Avanzo, B. (2008). Efficacy of couple therapy as a treatment for depression: A meta-analysis. Psychiatric Quarterly, 79(2),121–132. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11126–008–9068–0.Google Scholar
  2. Baucom, D. H., Shoham, V., Mueser, K. T., Daiuto, A. D., & Stickle, T. R. (1998). Empirically supported couple and family interventions for marital distress and adult mental health problems. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66(1), 53–88.Google Scholar
  3. Beach, S. R. H., Fincham, F. D., & Katz, J. (1998). Marital therapy in the treatment of depression: Toward a third generation of therapy and research. Clinical Psychology Review, 18(6), 635–661.Google Scholar
  4. Birmaher, B., Brent, A. D., David, K., Marianne, B., Jeffrey, B., Diane, H., Satish, I., & Elena, U. (2000). Clinical outcome after short-term psychotherapy for adolescents with major depressive disorder. Archives of general psychiatry, 57, 29–36.  https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.57.1.29.
  5. Brent, D. A., Holder, D., & Kolko, D., et al. (1997). A clinical psychotherapy trial for adolescent depression comparing cognitive, family, and supportive therapy. Archives of general Psychiatry, 54(9):877–885.  https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.1997.01830210125017
  6. Carr, A. (2009a). The effectiveness of family therapy and systemic interventions for adult-focused problems. Journal of Family Therapy, 31, 46–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carr, A. (2009b). The effectiveness of family therapy and systemic interventions for child-focused problems. Journal of Family Therapy, 31, 3–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carr, A. (2014a). The evidence base for family therapy and systemic interventions for child-focused problems. Journal of Family Therapy, 36(2), 107–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carr, A. (2014b). The evidence base for couple therapy, family therapy and systemic interventions for adult-focused problems. Journal of Family Therapy, 36(2), 158–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chambless, D. L., & Hollon, S. D. (1998). Defining empirically supported therapies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66(1), 7–18.Google Scholar
  11. Cuijpers, P. (1999). The effects of family interventions of relatives’ burden: A meta-analysis. Journal of Mental Health, 8(3), 275–285.Google Scholar
  12. Datchi, C., & Sexton, T. L. (2011). Integrating research and practice through intervention science: New developments in family therapy research. In T. L. Sexton & J. Lebow (Eds.), Handbook of family therapy (2nd ed.). New York: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Datchi, C., & Sexton, T. L. (2016). Integrating Research and Practice through Intervention Science. In T. L. Sexton & J. Lebow (Eds). Handbook of Family Therapy (pp 434–453). Routledge, NY: NY.Google Scholar
  14. Diamond, G., & Liddle, H. A. (1996). Resolving a therapeutic impasse between parents and adolescents in multidimensional family therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64(3), 481–488.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Edwards, M. E., & Steinglass, P. (1995). Family therapy treatment outcomes for alcoholism. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 21, 475–509.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-0606.1995.tb00176.x
  16. Farrington, P. D., & Welsh, C. B. (2003). Family-based Prevention of Offending: A Meta-analysis. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 36, 127–151.  https://doi.org/10.1375/acri.36.2.127.
  17. Flicker, S. M., Waldron, C. W., Waldron, H. B., Brody, J. L., & Ozechowski, T. J. (2008). Ethnic background, therapeutic alliance, and treatment retention in functional family therapy with adolescents who abuse substances. Journal of Family Psychology, 22(1), 167–170.Google Scholar
  18. Friedlander, M. L., Escudero, V., Heatherington, L., & Diamond, G. M. (2011). Alliance in couple and family therapy. Psychotherapy, 48(1), 25–33.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Friedlander, M. L., Wildman, J., Heatherington, L., & Skowron, E. A. (1994). What we do and don't know about the process of family therapy. Journal of Family Psychology, 8(4), 390–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Greenberg, L. S., & Pinsof, W. M. (1986). Process research: Current trends and future perspectives. In L. S. Greenberg & W. M. Pinsof (Eds.), The psychotherapeutic process: a research handbook. Guilford clinic psychology & psychotherapy series (pp. 3–20). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  21. Greenman, P. S., & Johnson, S. M. (2013). Process research on emotionally focused therapy (EFT) for couples: Linking theory to practice. Family Process, 52, 46–61.  https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12015.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Gurman, A. S. (1971). Group marital therapy: Clinical and empirical implications for outcome research. International Journal of Psychotherapy, 21, 174–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gurman, A. S. (1973). The effects and effectiveness of marital therapy: A review of outcome research. Family Process, 12, 45–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gurman, A. S., & Kniskern, D. P. (Eds.). (1981). Handbook of family therapy (Vol. 2). Philadelphia: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  25. Gurman, A. S., Kniskern, D. P., & Pinsof, W. M. (1986). Research on marital and family therapies. In S. L. Garfield & A. E. Bergin (Eds.), Handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change (3rd ed., pp. 565–624). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  26. Hahlweg, K., & Wiedemann, G. (1999). European archives of psychiatry and clinical neurosciences 249(Suppl 4): S108.  https://doi.org/10.1007/PL00014179
  27. Heatherington, L., Friedlander, M. L., & Greenberg, L. (2005). Change process research in couple and family therapy: Methodological challenges and opportunities. Journal of Family Psychology, 19(1), 18–27.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200. Scholar
  28. Lebow, J. (2013). Editorial: couple therapy and family therapy. Family Process, 52, 1–4.  https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12027.
  29. Lebow, J. L. (2014). Couple and family therapy: An integrative map of the territory. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lucksted, A., McFarlane, W., Downing, D., Dixon, L., & Adams, C. (2012). Recent developments in family psychoeducation as an evidence-based practice. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(1), 101–121.Google Scholar
  31. Mari, J., & Streiner, D. L. (1994). An overview of family interventions and relapse on schizophrenia: Meta-analysis of research findings. Psychological Medicine, 24(3), 565–578.Google Scholar
  32. McFarlane, W. R. (2006). Family expressed emotion prior to onset of psychosis. In S. R. H. Beach, M. Z. Wamboldt, N. J. Kaslow, R. E. Heyman, M. B. First, L. G. Underwood, & D. Reiss (Eds.), Relational processes and DSM-V: Neuroscience, assessment, prevention and treatment (pp. 77–87). Arlington: American Psychiatric Publishing.Google Scholar
  33. Melidonis, G. G., & Bry, B. H. (1995). Effects of therapist exceptions questions on blaming and positive statements in families with adolescent behavior problems. Journal of Family Psychology, 9(4), 451–457.Google Scholar
  34. Pinsof, W., Knobloch-Fedders, L. M., & Mann, B. J. (2007). Therapeutic alliance and treatment progress in couple therapy. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy, 33(2), 245–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pinsof, W. M., & Wynne, L. C. (1995). Toward progress research: Closing the gap between family therapy practice and research. Journal of Family and Marital Therapy, 26, 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Powers, M. B., Vedel, E., & Emmelkamp, P. M. G. (2008). Behavioral couples therapy (BCT) for alcohol and drug use disorders: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 28(6), 952–962.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2008.02.002.
  37. Retzlaff, R., von Sydow, K., Beher, S., Haun, M., & Schweitzer, J. (2013). The efficacy of systemic therapy for internalizing and other disorders of childhood and adolescence: A systematic review of 38 randomized trials. Family Process, 52, 619–652.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  38. Robbins, M. S., Alexander, J. F., Newell, R. M., & Turner, C. W. (1996). The immediate effect of reframing on client attitude in family therapy. Journal of Family Psychology, 10(1), 28–34.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200.10.1.28.
  39. Robbins, M. S., Alexander, J. F., & Turner, C. W. (2000). Disrupting defensive family interactions in family therapy with delinquent youth. Journal of Family Psychology, 14(4), 688–701.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  40. Schmidt, S. E., Liddle, H. A., & Dakof, G. A. (1996). Changes in parenting practices and adolescent drug abuse during multidimensional family therapy. Journal of Family Psychology, 10(1), 12– 27.Google Scholar
  41. Sexton, T. L. (2011). Functional family therapy in clinical practice: An evidence-based treatment model for working with troubled adolescents. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Sexton, T. L., & Datchi, C. C. (2014). The development and evolution of family therapy research: its impact on practice, current status, and future directions. Family Process, 53(3), 415–33.  https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12084.
  43. Sexton, T. L., Alexander, J. F., & Mease, A. L. (2004). Chapter 13: Levels of evidence for the models and mechanisms of therapeutic change in family and couple therapy. In M. Lambert (Ed.), Bergin and Garfield’s handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change (5th ed., pp. 590–646). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  44. Sexton, T. L., & Coop Gordon, K. (2009). Science, practice, and evidence-based treatments in the clinical practice of family psychology. In J. H. Bray & M. Stanton (Eds.), The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of family psychology (pp. 314–326). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sexton, T. L., Gordon, K., Gurman, A., Lebow, J., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., & Johnson, S. (2011). Guidelines for classifying Evidence based treatments in couple and family psychology. Family Process, 50(3), 337–392.Google Scholar
  46. Sexton, T. L., Datchi, C., Evans, L., LaFollette, J., & Wrigth, L. (2013). The effectiveness of couple and family-based clinical interventions. In M. J. Lambert (Ed.), Bergin and Garfield’s handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change (6th ed., pp. 587–639). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  47. Sexton, T. L., Robbins, M. S., Hollimon, A. S., Mease, A. L., & Mayorga, C. C. (2003). Efficacy, effectiveness, and change mechanisms in couple and family therapy. In T. L. Sexton, G. R. Weeks, & M. S. Robbins (Eds.), Handbook of family therapy (pp. 229–261). New York: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar
  48. Sexton, T. L., & Turner, C. W. (2010). The effectiveness of Functional Family Therapy for youth with behavioral problems in a community practice setting. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(3), 339–348.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Shadish, W. R., & Baldwin, S. A. (2003). Meta-analysis of MFT interventions. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 29(4), 547–570.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Shadish, W. R., Ragsdale, K., Glaser, R. R., & Montgomery, L. M. (1995). The efficacy and effectiveness of marital and family therapy: A perspective from meta-analysis. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 21(4), 345–360. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1752–0606.1995.tb00170.xGoogle Scholar
  51. Sprenkle, D. (2002). Effectiveness research in marital and family therapy. Alexandria: American Association for Marital and Family Therapy.Google Scholar
  52. Sprenkle, D. (2012). Intervention research in couple and family therapy: A methodological and substantive review and an introduction to the special issue. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38, 3–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Stanton, M. D., & Shadish, W. R. (1997). Outcome, attrition, and family-couples treatment of drug abuse: A meta-analysis and review of the con- trolled, comparative studies. Psychological Bulletin, 122(2), 170–191.Google Scholar
  54. Waldron, H. B. (1997). Adolescent substance abuse and family therapy outcome: A review of randomized trials. In T. H. Ollendick & R. J. Prinz (Eds.), Advances in clinical child psychology (Vol. 19, pp. 199–234). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FFTBloomingtonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Corinne Datchi
    • 1
  • Ryan M. Earl
    • 2
  1. 1.Seton Hall UniversitySouth OrangeUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA