Methodologies

Here research studies are categorised according to the methodology used. These can be helpful to see what kind of analysis different methodologies 'produce' and which types of research questions are addressed. We include references on research paradigms, and on researcher reflexivity.

Qualitative

Qualitative research studies are useful for clinicians and therapists because of their applicability to therapeutic and organisational practice. Included here are process research studies, and research exploring meaning-making, language and its effects. Studies using these methodologies can address gaps and absences, exploring aspects of subjectivity, relationships, family, community and context with implications for therapy. You will also find articles which describe and review methodologies, including meta-synthesis of qualitative studies.

Willig, C (2019) What can qualitative research contribute to psychological knowledge?  Psychological Methods.

Action Research - AR+    https://actionresearchplus.com/

Bradbury, H., Glenzer, K., Apgar, M., Embury, D. C., Friedman, V., Kjellström, S., … Devecha, S. (2020). Action Research Journal’s seven quality choicepoints for action oriented research for transformations. Action Research, 18(1), 3–6. https://doi.org/10.1177/1476750320904562

Epston, D. (1999) Co-research: the making of alternative knowledge.  Narrative therapy and community work: a conference collection.  Adelaide: Dulwich Centre Publications.

Fraenkel, P. (2006) Engaging families as experts: collaborative family program development. Family Process, 45(2): 237-257.

Johnson, S. and Piercy, F. (2000) Qualitative evaluation of family therapy programs: a participatory approach. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 26(1): 39-45.

Kemmis, S. and McTaggart, R. (2000) Participatory action research. In N. K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln (eds) Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

​McArdle, K.L. and Reason, P. (2008) Action research and organization development. In: Cummings, T. G. ed, Handbook of organization development. London: Sage Publications pp. 123-136.

Proctor, K., McIlwaine, F., and Perlesz, A. (2004) 'Walking the line’ — engaging school communities to challenge homophobia. The Breaking Through project: a whole-school approach for a safer and more inclusive school environment. Unpublished manuscript. Latrobe University, Australia.

Reed, J. (2006) Appreciative Inquiry: Research for change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Williams, J. and Lykes, M.B. (2003) Bridging theory and practice: using reflexive cycles in feminist participatory action research. Feminism and Psychology, 13(3): 287-294.​

Bodiford, K. and Camargo-Borges, C. (eds) (2014) Bridging Research and Practice: Illustrations from Appreciative Inquiry in Doctoral Research. International Journal of Appreciative Inquiry, 16(3). dx.doi.org/10.12781/978-1-907549-20-5

There are some useful papers and book chapters on the official CMM website, which include:

Barnett Pearce, W. (2008) Doing Research In Our Right Minds. [book chapter]. (This is the English filecopy of a chapter in a book on research methods published in Colombia. In it, Barnett Pearce explores the effects of using CMM's heuristics on the mind and brain of the user, arguing that these effects are salutory for those doing research.)  

Barnett Pearce, W. (2006). Doing Research from the Perspective of the Coordinated Management of Meaning [unpublished paper]. (This unpublished paper describes two ways in which CMM can be used in research. Some researchers "frame" their projects within the concepts and perspectives of CMM; others simply use some of CMM's concepts and models in service to research projects framed by other perspectives. The purpose of this paper is to help researchers use what CMM has to offer; it suggests a sequence of four steps: descriptive, interpretive, critical and practical.)

Other research reports and theory development related to CMM.

Amoss, S. (2014) The negotiation of blame in family therapy with families affected by psychosis.  Systemic Psychotherapy Doctoral Thesis. Tavistock Library [contact].

Antaki, C. (2008) Formulations in psychotherapy. In C. Antaki, A. Perakyla, S. Vehvilainen and I. Leudar (eds) Conversation Analysis and Psychotherapy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Couture, S.J. & Sutherland, O. (2006), "Giving advice on advice-giving: A conversation analysis of Karl Tomm's practice"Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 32: 329-345.

Dallos, R., Denman, K., Stedmon, J. & Smart, C. (2012) The Construction of ADHD: Family Dynamics, Conversations and Attachment Patterns. Human Systems: The Journal of Therapy, Consultation & Training. 23(1): 5-26.

Fullen, C. T. (2020) The Therapeutic Alliance in a Single Session: A Conversation Analysis. Journal of Systemic Therapies 2019 38, 4, 45-61

O'Reilly, M. (2005), The complaining client and the troubled therapist: a discursive investigation of family therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 27: 370-391. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6427.2005.0328.x

O’Reilly, M. (2014) Blame and accountability in family therapy: Making sense of therapeutic spaces discursively. Qualitative Psychology, 1(2): 163-177.

O’Reilly, M. and Lester, V.L. (2016) Building a case for good parenting in a family therapy systemic environment: resisting blame and accounting for children’s behaviour. Journal of Family Therapy. 38(4): 491-50.

Ong, B., Barnes, S. and Buus, N. (2020), Conversation analysis and family therapy: a narrative review. Journal of Family Therapy, 42: 169-203. doi:10.1111/1467-6427.12269

Ong, B., Barnes, S. and Buus, N. (2019) Conversational analysis and family therapy: A critical review of methodology. Family Process. early view.

Sutherland, O. and Strong, T. (2011) Therapeutic collaboration: a conversation analysis of constructionist therapy. Journal of Family Therapy.  33, 3: 229–371

Tseliou, E. (2013) A critical methodological review of discourse and conversation analysis studies of family therapy. Family Process. 52(4):653-72

Watson, R. (2018) Jointly created authority: a conversation analysis of how power is managed by parents and systemic psychotherapists in children's social care. Journal of Family Therapy

Avdi, E., Lerou, V., & Seikkula, J. (2015). Dialogical Features, Therapist Responsiveness, and Agency in a Therapy for Psychosis. Journal of Constructivist Psychology. Vol. 28 , Iss. 4.

Helimäki, M., Laitila, A. and Kumpulainen, K. (2020), ‘Can I tell?’ Children’s participation and positioning in a secretive atmosphere in family therapy. Journal of Family Therapy. doi:10.1111/1467-6427.12296

Seikkula, J. & Olson, M. (2016) Therapists’ responses for enhancing change through dialogue: Dialogical investigations of change. In Maria Borcsa & Peter Rober (eds) Research Perspectives in Couple Therapy. Discursive Qualitative Methods.

Seikkula, J., Laitila, A., & Rober, P. (2012) Making sense of multi-actor dialogues in family therapy and network meetings. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. Vol 38. 4. pp 667-687.

Avdi, E. (2005) Negotiating a pathological identity in clinical dialogue: discourse analysis of a family therapy. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 78(4): 493-511.

Best, A. (2003) Doing Race in the Context of Feminist Interviewing: Constructing Whiteness Through Talk. Qualitative Inquiry, 9(6): 895-914. doi: 10.1177/1077800403254891

Burck, C. (2005) Comparing qualitative research methodologies for systemic research: the use of grounded theory, discourse analysis and narrative analysis. Journal of Family Therapy, 27: 238-263.

Coates, L & Wade, A (2007) Language and Violence: The Analysis of Four Discursive Operations. Journal of Family Violence, 22: 511-522.

Diorinou, M. and Tseliou, E. (2014) Studying Circular Questioning “In Situ”: Discourse Analysis Of A First Systemic Family Therapy Session. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 40(1): 106–121. doi: 10.1111/jmft.12005.

Deeny Coopasamy, Y. (2016) Using interviews to understand parent and family perspectives of the August 2011 London riots. Journal of Family Therapy, 38 (4): 512-534.

Edley, N. (2001) Analysing masculinity: interpretative repertoires, ideological dilemmas and subject positions. In M. Wetherell, S. Taylor and S.J. Yates (eds) Discourse as Data. London: Open University & Sage.

Gale, J. (2011) Discursive analysis: A research approach for studying the moment-to- moment construction of meaning in systemic practice. Human Systems, 21(2): 176-207.

Killian, K.D. (2002) Dominant and marginalized discourses in interracial couples’ narratives: implications for family therapists. Family Process, 41: 603-618.

Klevan, T. et al (2016)  Between a rock and a softer place—A discourse analysis of helping cultures in crisis resolution teams. Qualitative Social Work, Vol 17, Issue 2:252  - 267

Kogana, S.M. (1998) The politics of making meaning. Discourse analysis of a ‘postmodern’ interview.  Journal of Family Therapy, 20: 229-251.

Lee, E., Tsang, A. K. T., Bogo, M., Wilson, G., Johnstone, M. and Herschman, J. (2018), Joining revisited in family therapy: discourse analysis of cross-cultural encounters between a therapist and an immigrant family. Journal of Family Therapy, 40: 148–179. doi:10.1111/1467-6427.12148

O’Reilly, M. (2008) 'I didn't violent punch him': parental accounts of punishing children with mental health problems. Journal of Family Therapy, 3: 272-295. 

Pakes, K. and Roy-Chowdhury, S. (2007) Culturally sensitive therapy? Examining the practice of cross-cultural family therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 29(3): 267-283.

Patrika, P. and Tseliou, E. (2016) Blame, responsibility and systemic neutrality: a discourse analysis methodology to the study of family therapy problem talk. Journal of Family Therapy, 38: 467–490. doi:10.1111/1467-6427.12076.

Sametband, I. and Strong, T. (2018), Immigrant family members negotiating preferred cultural identities in family therapy conversations: a discursive analysis. Journal of Family Therapy, 40: 201–223. doi:10.1111/1467-6427.12164

Singh, R. (2009) Constructing the family across culture. Journal of Family Therapy 31(4): 359-383.

Van Parys, H. and Rober, P. (2013) Micro-analysis of a therapist-generated metaphor referring to the position of a parentified child in the family. Journal of Family Therapy 35: 89–113. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6427.2011.00551.x

Wallis, J. and Singh, R. (2014) Constructions and enactments of whiteness: a discursive analysis. Journal of Family Therapy, 36: 39–64. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6427.2012.00602.x

Bruner, E.M., (1986) Ethnography as narrative. In Turner, V. W., Bruner E.M. (eds) The anthropology of experience. University of Illinois Press, pp. 139–155.

Davies, C.A. (1999) Reflexive Ethnography. A Guide to Researching Selves and Others. London: Routledge.

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E. & Bochner, A.P. (2011) Autoethnography: An Overview. FQS 12(1).

Ellis, C., (2004) The call of auto-ethnographic stories. In Ellis, C. The ethnographic I. A methodical novel about auto-ethnography, pp. 24 - 57

Epston, D (2014) Ethnography, Co-research and Insider Knowledges. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 35(1): 105–109,

Favez, N., Lavanchy Scaiola, C., Tissot, H., Darwiche, J. & Frascarolo, F. (2011). The Family Alliance Assessment Scales (FAAS): Steps toward validity and reliability of an observational tool for early family interactions. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20 (1): 23-37.

Rapport, N. (2000) The narrative as fieldwork technique. Processual ethnography for a world in motion. In V. Amit (ed.) Constructing the Field. London: Routledge.

Bryant, A. & Charmaz, C. (2010) The Sage Handbook of Grounded Theory. London: Sage.

Burck, C. (2005) Comparing qualitative research methodologies for systemic research: the use of grounded theory, discourse analysis and narrative analysis. Journal of Family Therapy, 27: 238-263.

Charmaz, K. (2006) Constructing Grounded Theory: a Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. London: Sage Publications. 

Coldwell, J., Meddings, S. and Camic, P.M. (2011) How people with psychosis positively contribute to their family: a grounded theory analysis. Journal of Family Therapy 33(3): 353-371.

Rober, P., Elliott, R., Buysse, A., Loots, G. & De Corte, K. (2008) Positioning in the therapist's inner conversation:a dialogical model based on a grounded theory analysis of therapist reflections. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 34(3): 406-421.

IPA is an experiential qualitative approach to research developed by Jonathan Smith, Professor of Psychology, Birkbeck University of London. The IPA website is a useful resource.

Allan, R. and Eatough, V. (2016) The use of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis in Couple and Family therapy research. The Family Journal: Counselling and Therapy for Couples and Families. 24(4): 406-414.

Larkin, M., Watts, S. and Clifton, E. (2006) Giving voice and making sense in interpretative phenomenological analysisQualitative Research in Psychology, 3: 102-120.

Pentecost, D. (2008) How do Child Psychiatrists Conceptualise ADHD? An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Systemic Psychotherapy Doctorate Thesis. Birkbeck College (University of London) Library & Institute of Family Therapy Library.

Raval, H. and Smith, J.A. (2003) Therapists’ experiences of working with language interpreters. International Journal of Mental Health, 32(2): 6-31.

Smith, J.A. (2011) Evaluating the contribution of interpretative phenomenological analysis. Health Psychology Review, 5(1): 9-27.

Shahnavaz, S. (2014) Traumas of refugees and the impact on couple and family relationships.  Systemic Psychotherapy Doctoral Thesis. Tavistock Library [contact].

Smith, J.A., Larkin, M. and Flowers, P.(eds) (2009)  Interpretative phenomenological analysis : theory, method and research.  London: Sage. 

Todorova, I. (2011) Explorations with interpretative phenomenological analysis in different socio-cultural contexts. Health Psychology Review, 5(1): 34-38.

Wagstaffe, S. (2006) Depressed Women Talking about Mothering: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Systemic Psychotherapy Doctoral Thesis. Birkbeck College (University of London) Library & Institute of Family Therapy Library.

Theory-generating meta-synthesis consists of synthesising the results of multiple qualitative studies to generalise the findings without sacrificing context-rich information.

Chenail, R. J., et al. (2012). Clients’ relational conceptions of conjoint couple and family therapy quality: A grounded formal theory. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(1), pp. 241-264. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00246.x

Finfgeld-Connett, D. (2018) A Guide to Qualitative Meta-Synthesis

Feely, M. (2020). Assemblage analysis: an experimental new-materialist method for analysing narrative data. Qualitative Research, 20(2), 174–193. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794119830641

Van Hennik, R. (2019). Becoming a Posthuman Systemic Nomad: Part I: Truth and trust. Murmurations: Journal of Transformative Systemic Practice, 2(2), 70-85. https://doi.org/10.28963/2.2.7

Simon, G., & Salter, L. K. (2019). Transmaterial Worlding. Beyond Human Systems. Murmurations: Journal of Transformative Systemic Practice, 2(2), 1-17. https://doi.org/10.28963/2.2.2

Gabb, J. and Singh, R. (2015) Reflections on the challenges of understanding racial, cultural and sexual differences in couple relationship research. Journal of Family Therapy 37(2): 210-227.

Simon, G. & Chard, A. (eds.) (2014) Systemic Inquiry. Innovations in Reflexive Practice Research. Farnhill: Everything is Connected Press.

Steier, F. (1991) Research and Reflexivity: Knowing as Systemic Social Construction. London: Sage.

Ugazio, V., & Fellin, L. (2016). Family Semantic Polarities and Positionings. A semantic analysis. In P. Rober, M. Borcsa, (Eds.). Qualitative Research in Systemic Couple Therapy. Multiple Readings, London: Springer.

Ugazio V., Negri, A., Fellin, L. & Di Pasquale, R. (2009) The Family Semantics Grid (FSG): Narrated polarities. A manual for the semantic analysis of therapeutic conversation and self-narratives. TPM: Testing, Psychometrics and Methodology in Applied Psychology, 16(4): 165-192.

Barbara, T.J, Waldron, H.B. (1994) Sequential analysis as a method of feedback for family therapy process. The American Journal of Family Therapy 22 (2): 156-164.

Friedlander MLLambert JEValentín ECragun C. (2008) How do therapists enhance family alliances? Sequential analyses of therapist-client behavior in two contrasting cases. Psychotherapy, 45(1): 75-87. doi: 10.1037/0033-3204.45.1.75.

Hilliard, R.B., (1993) Single-case methodology in psychotherapy process and outcome research. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 61(3), p.373.

Marková, I., Zadeh, S., & Zittoun, T. (2020). Introduction to the special issue on generalisation from dialogical single case studies. Culture & Psychology, 26(1), 3–24. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354067X19888193

Matsuba, M. K., Elder, G., Petrucci, F., & Reimer, K. S. (2010). Re-storying the lives of at-risk youth: a case study approach. In K. C. McLean & M. Pasupathi (Eds.), Narrative Development in Adolescence: Creating the Storied Self. New York: Springer US, pp. 131-149.

Sim, T. (2007). Structural Family Therapy in Adolescent Drug Abuse: A Hong Kong Chinese Family. Clinical Case Studies, 6 (1): 79-99.

Vall, B., Seikkula, J., Laitila, A. & Botella, L. (2014) Increasing responsibility, safety, and trust through a dialogical approach: A case study in couple therapy for psychological abusive behavior. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 25(4): 275-299.

Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology.Qualitative Research in Psychology. 3: 77-101.

Fereday, J., & Muir-Cochrane, E. (2006). Demonstrating rigor using thematic analysis: A hybrid approach of inductive and deductive coding and theme development. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(1)

Anderson, S.R., Sumner, B.W., Parady, A., Whiting, J. and Tambling, R. (2019), A Task Analysis of Client Re‐engagement: Therapeutic De‐escalation of High‐Conflict Coparents. Family Process. doi:10.1111/famp.12511

Quantitative

Quantitative research included here consists of outcome studies as well as meta-analyses and systematic reviews.  These two documents are particularly useful:

Stratton, P. (2016) The Evidence Base of Family Therapy and Systemic Practice. Association for Family Therapy, UK.

Stratton, P., Silver, E. Nascimento, N., McDonnell L., Powell, G. & Nowotny, E. (2015) Couples and family therapy in the previous decade – what does the evidence tell us? Contemporary Family Therapy, 27: 1-12. doi: 10.1007/s10591- 014 -9314 - 6

Bischoff, R.J. (2011) Finding the heart of medical family therapy: a content analysis of medical family therapy. Families, Systems, & Health, 29:3 (2011), pp. 184–196. doi: 10.1037/a0024637

Gambrel, L. E. and Butler VI, J. L. (2013). Mixed methods research in marriage and family therapy: A content analysis. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 39: 163–181. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00260.x

Parker E. O., Chang J. and Thomas V. (2016). A content analysis of quantitative research in Journal of Marital and Family Therapy: A 10-year review. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 42: 3–18. doi: 10.1111/jmft.12138

Please see the 'Randomised controlled trials (RCTs)' section in our 'Evaluation & Outcomes' category for a list of references.


Systematic review is a review of a clearly formulated question that uses systematic and explicit methods to identify, select and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect and analyse data from the studies that are not included in the review.  Statistical methods (meta-analysis) may or may not be used to analyse and summarise the results of the included studies.

Meta-analysis is a statistical technique that combines the results of individual studies to arrive at one overall measure of the effect of a treatment.

Please see the 'Systematic reviews and meta-analyses' section in our 'Evaluation & Outcomes' category for a list of references.

Christenson, J.D. & Gutierrez, D.M. (2016) Using Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Research to Promote Family Therapy with Adolescents in Residential Settings. Contemporary Family Therapy 38: 52-61. doi:10.1007/s10591-016-9374-x

Dickey, M.H. (1996) Quantitative design in family therapy: insider hints on getting started. In D.H. Sprenkle and S.M. Moon (eds) Research Methods in Family Therapy. London: Guilford Press.

Distelberg B. J., Emerson N. D., Gavaza P., Tapanes D., Brown W. N., Shah H., Williams-Reade J. and Montgomery S. (2016). A cost–benefit analysis of a family systems intervention for managing pediatric chronic illness. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 42: 371–382. doi: 10.1111/jmft.12166

Greenhalgh, T. (1997) How to read a paper: statistics for the non-statistician. I: Different types of data need different statistical tests. British Medical Journal, 315: 364-366.

Greenhalgh, T. (1997) How to read a paper: statistics for the non-statistician. II: Significant relations and their pitfalls. British Medical Journal, 315: 422-425.

Mixed methods




Evidence and outcome studies

We have listed research studies which provide evidence for the effectiveness of systemic and family therapy. These should be useful for families,...

Process research

These studies research therapeutic change processes, addressing questions of 'how therapy works', and can be considered to produce 'practice-based...

Topics

Research has been categorised under the following topics listed alphabetically

Type of therapeutic approach

Studies here have been categorised according to the type of therapeutic approach and consultation that is being researched.

Tavistock Systemic Doctoral Research Theses.

Doctoral systemic and family therapy research carried out on the Professional Doctorate in Systemic Psychotherapy at the Tavistock. Many full texts...

Other Systemic Doctorate and PhD Research Theses

Titles and links to Systemic Doctorate and Phd Theses carried out at other Institutes and Universities

Masters research dissertations

Titles and abstracts of systemic masters research dissertations from UK family therapy training institutes that were awarded distinctions and from...

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