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 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.
Hemy, A. D. and Meshulam, A. (2020) ‘‘Is that okay, teacher?’ The camera as a tool to challenge power relations in a participatory action research classroom’, Qualitative Research. doi: 10.1177/1468794120952008.
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.
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 Unpublished manuscript.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
Burbach, F.R. and Amani, S.K. (2019), "Appreciative enquiry peer review improving quality of services", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 857-866. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJHCQA-01-2018-0015
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.)
Amoss, S. (2014) The negotiation of blame in family therapy with families affected by psychosis. Systemic Psychotherapy Doctoral Thesis. Tavistock Library [contact].
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.
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.
of Family Therapy.
Ong, B., Barnes, S. and Buus, N. (2020), Downgrading Deontic Authority in Open Dialogue Reflection Proposals: A Conversation Analysis. Family Process. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12586
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
E. (2013) A critical methodological review of discourse and
conversation analysis studies of family therapy. Family Process. 52(4):653-72
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
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.
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
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
Parker, C., Smithson, J., Limond, J., Sherbersky, H. and Butler, C. (2021), Student and supervisor experiences of the Systemic Practice Scale (SPS): a discourse analysis. Journal of Family Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6427.12318
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.
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.
Deslypere, E. and Rober, P. (2020), Family Secrecy in Family Therapy Practice: An Explorative Focus Group Study. Family Process, 59: 52-65. doi:10.1111/famp.12409
Katainen, A., & Heikkilä, R. (2019). Analysing the ways of participating in interview settings: young people’s identity performances and social class in focus groups. Qualitative Research. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794119891634
Bryant, A. & Charmaz, C. (2010) The Sage Handbook of Grounded Theory. London: Sage.
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.
Knudson‐Martin, C., Kim, L., Gibbs, E. and Harmon, R. (2021), Sociocultural Attunement to Vulnerability in Couple Therapy: Fulcrum for Changing Power Processes in Heterosexual Relationships. Fam. Proc.. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12635
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.
Kerr, J & Adamov Ferguson, K. (2020) Ethical Relationality and Indigenous Storywork Principles as Methodology: Addressing Settler-Colonial Divides in Inner-City Educational Research. Qualitative Inquiry. November 2020. doi:10.1177/1077800420971864
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., Shaw, R. & Flowers, P. (2018) Multiperspectival designs and processes in interpretative phenomenological analysis research, Qualitative Research in Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/14780887.2018.1540655. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14780887.2018.1540655
Larkin, M., Watts, S. and Clifton, E. (2006) Giving voice and making sense in interpretative phenomenological analysis. Qualitative 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].
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
Anthias, L. (2016) Constructing personal and couple narratives in late stage cancer: a narrative analysis. Systemic Psychotherapy Doctoral Thesis. Tavistock Library [contact].
Anthias, L. (2016) Constructing personal and couple narratives in late stage cancer: can a typology illuminate the caring perspective? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 37(3):418-430.
Sequeira, J. and Alarcão, M. (2013) Assessment System Of Narrative Change. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 32(4): 33–51
Squire, C (2008) Approaches to Narrative Research. ESRC National Centre for Research Methods Review Paper.
Stern, S., Doolan, M., Staples, E., Szmukler, G.L. and Eisler, I. (1999) Disruption and reconstruction: narrative insights into the experience of family members caring for a relative diagnosed with serious mental illness. Family Process, 38: 353-369.
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.
Steier, F. (1991) Research and Reflexivity: Knowing as Systemic Social Construction. London: Sage.
Stancombe, J. and White, S. (1996) Notes on the tenacity of therapeutic presuppositions in process research: examining the artfulness of blamings in family therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 19: 21-41.
Klaushofer, M. (2007) Honouring our great grandparents: towards a rhetorical analysis of family therapy. Journal of Family Therapy 29(2): 131–146
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 ML, Lambert JE, Valentín E, Cragun C. (2008) How do therapists enhance family alliances? Sequential analyses of therapist-client behavior in two contrasting cases. Psychotherapy, 45(1): 75-87. doi: 10.1037/0033-3126.96.36.199.
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.
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 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
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
Betancourt, T.S. et al (2011). Using Mixed-Methods Research to Adapt and Evaluate a Family Strengthening Intervention in Rwanda. African Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2(1): 32–45.
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
Lewin S., Glenton, C. and Oxman, A.D. (2009) Use of qualitative methods alongside randomised controlled trials of complex healthcare interventions: methodological study. British Medical Journal, 339: 732-734.
Palinkas, L. A., Horwitz, S. M., Chamberlain, P., Hurlburt, M. S., & Landsverk, J. (2011). Mixed-methods designs in mental health services research: A review. Psychiatric Services. 62 (3): 255-263.
We have listed research studies which provide evidence for the effectiveness of systemic and family therapy. These should be useful for families,...
These studies research therapeutic change processes, addressing questions of 'how therapy works', and can be considered to produce 'practice-based...
Research has been categorised under the following topics listed alphabetically
Studies here have been categorised according to the type of therapeutic approach and consultation that is being researched.
Doctoral systemic and family therapy research carried out on the Professional Doctorate in Systemic Psychotherapy at the Tavistock. Many full texts...
Titles and links to Systemic Doctorate and Phd Theses carried out at other Institutes and Universities
Titles and abstracts of systemic masters research dissertations from UK family therapy training institutes that were awarded distinctions and from...