Integrating Research and Practice Through Intervention Science

New Developments in Family Therapy Research

Authored by: Corinne Datchi , Thomas L. Sexton

Handbook of family therapy

Print publication date:  December  2015
Online publication date:  December  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415518017
eBook ISBN: 9780203123584
Adobe ISBN:


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Family therapy is a distinct clinical process with a systemic focus that calls for complex research and statistical tools to capture the multidimensional and relational nature of therapeutic change. Despite the challenges of studying family therapy, research has produced substantial evidence about the clinical utility of family-based programs (Sexton, Robbins, Hollimon, Mease, Mayorga, 2003; Sexton, Datchi, Evans, Lafollette, Wright, 2013; Sprenkle, 2012). Family therapy science has evolved from a focus on the efficacy and effectiveness of the broad modality of family therapy to the study of specific interventions and treatment models and the mechanisms that produce positive outcomes in “real-life” clinical settings. Similarly, clinical practices (techniques, interventions, and treatment programs), which are the object of intervention research, have progressed from “schools” of therapy to specific, systematic, and well-articulated evidence-based clinical models that add to the core common factors of any good family therapy. Even our current research methodologies have advanced to a level where it is possible to describe the unique interplay between clinical presenting problems, therapeutic factors, demographic variables, and model-specific change mechanisms (Sexton, 2007; Sprenkle, Davis, & Lebow, 2011). Liddle, Bray, Levant, and Santisteban (2002) call this evolution the emergence of “family intervention science”: a knowledge base of clinical expertise and a growing body of outcome and process studies that meet the highest standards of research methodology.

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