Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Qualitative Research in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Ben K. BeitinEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_409

Name of Concept

Qualitative research


Qualitative research refers to a broad range of empirical methodology designed to describe and interpret human experiences by examining the reported experiences of the group being studied. Denzin and Lincoln (2000) claims: “qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or to interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them” (p. 3). Qualitative approaches are utilized for many purposes, including but not limited to theory and model building, hypothesis testing, concept development, explaining social processes, building descriptions of lived experiences, developing typologies, surveys, assessment instruments, and evaluation measures. Sprenkle (2012) emphasized the value of qualitative investigation for studying family interactions and the process of family therapy. Qualitative research has been demonstrated in numerous research studies to be a natural fit with family...

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


  1. Almqvist, C., & Hwang, S. (1999). Iranian refugees in Sweden: Coping processes in children and their families. Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research, 6, 167–188.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, H., & Goolishian, H. A. (1988). Human systems as linguistic systems: Preliminary and evolving ideas about the implications for clinical theory. Family Process, 27, 371–393.Google Scholar
  3. Barton, J., & Haslett, T. (2007). Analysis, synthesis, systems thinking and the scientific method: Rediscovering the importance of open systems. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 24(2), 143–155.Google Scholar
  4. Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an ecology of mind: Collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution, and epistemology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. Beitin, B. K. (2008). Qualitative research in marriage and family therapy: Who is in the interview? Contemporary Family Therapy, 30(1), 48–58.Google Scholar
  6. Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (2000). Introduction: The discipline and practice of qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed., pp. 1–28). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Echevarria-Doan, S., & Tubbs, C. Y. (2005). Let’s get grounded. In D. H. Sprenkle & F. P. Piercy (Eds.), Research methods in family therapy (2nd ed., pp. 41–84). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  8. Faulkner, R. A., Klock, K., & Gale, J. (2002). Qualitative research in family therapy: Publication trends from 1980 to 1999. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 28(1), 69–74.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Gale, J., & Dolbin-MacNab, M. L. (2014). Qualitative research for family therapy. In R. B. Miller & L. N. Johnson (Eds.), Advanced methods in family therapy research: A focus on validity and change (pp. 247–265). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Gehart, D. R., Ratliff, D. A., & Lyle, R. R. (2001). Qualitative research in family therapy: A substantive and methodological review. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 27(2), 261–274.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Gilgun, J. F. (2005). Qualitative research and family psychology. Journal of Family Psychology, 19(1), 40.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). Applying grounded theory. In The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies of qualitative research. Hawthorne: Aldine Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  13. Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1994). Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  14. Haene, L. (2010). Beyond division: Convergences between postmodern qualitative research and family therapy. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 36(1), 1–12.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Harris, M. (1968). The rise of anthropological theory. New York: Crowell.Google Scholar
  16. Husserl, E. (1982). Cartesian meditations: An introduction to phenomenology. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  17. Lawrence, V., Murray, J., Ffytche, D., & Banerjee, S. (2009). Out of sight, out of mind: A qualitative study of visual impairment and dementia from three perspectives. International Psychogeriatrics, 21, 511–518.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Mennenga, K., & Johnson, L. (2014). Single case research with couples and families. In R. B. Miller & L. N. Johnson (Eds.), Advanced methods in family therapy research: A focus on validity and change (pp. 196–207). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Piercy, F. P., & Benson, K. (2005). Aesthetic forms of data representation in qualitative family therapy research. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 31, 107–119.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Patton, M. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Schwandt, T. A. (2001). Dictionary of qualitative inquiry (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Sprenkle, D. H. (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(1), 3–29.Google Scholar
  23. Van Parys, H., & Rober, P. (2013). Trying to comfort the parent: A qualitative study of children dealing with parental depression. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 39, 330–345.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seton Hall UniversitySouth OrangeUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Heather Pederson
    • 1
  1. 1.Council for RelationshipsPhiladelphiaUSA