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The State of the Art in Family Therapy Research: What Works? How it Works?


  • Margarida Vilaca
  • Ana Paula Relvas


Despite the growing popularity of systemic family therapy, little is known about the way in which therapeutic change occurs. This question concerns theorists and clinicians, and can only be answered through research focused not only on the results but also on the therapeutic process. This article presents an overview of the literature regarding the path followed by published research in systemic family therapy, in order to understand the methodological issues at the core of the current state of the art. Aiming to synthesize and integrate the relevant knowledge consolidated to date, a bibliographic review was carried out using electronic databases (e.g. EBSCO Host) and referenced books in the field of family therapy, with an emphasis on the most relevant meta-analysis and systematic revision studies. The observed predominance of studies regarding family therapy effectiveness over research on the therapeutic process is examined, and the main factors empirically associated to the therapeutic change are presented, emphasizing the fact that this investigation is based on the individual's perspective, rather than on the family perspective. Finally, new ways to successfully introduce specific factors in systemic family therapy are suggested, indicating the need to research these possibilities.

Suggested Citation

  • Margarida Vilaca & Ana Paula Relvas, 2014. "The State of the Art in Family Therapy Research: What Works? How it Works?," International Journal of Social Science Studies, Redfame publishing, vol. 2(2), pages 10-19, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:rfa:journl:v:2:y:2014:i:2:p:10-19

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    More about this item


    systemic family therapy; research; methodology; outcomes; process;

    JEL classification:

    • R00 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General - - - General
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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