Skip to content

Process research

These studies research therapeutic change processes and can be considered to produce ‘practice-based evidence‘. They include methods which analyse therapy sessions and methods which ask therapists and clients about their experience of therapy and the process of change.

Please also refer to studies listed under Methodologies. Qualitative.

Researching process

de Paula-Ravagnani, G. E., Sundet, E. R., & Guanaes-Lorenzi, C. (2022). Learning from within: Therapists’ actions in daily clinical practice. Family Process, 00, 1– 14.

Elliott, R. (2012) Qualitative Methods for Studying Psychotherapy Change Processes. In: A. Thompson & D. Harper (Eds.) Qualitative research methods in mental health & psychotherapy: An introduction for students & practitioners (pp. 69-81). Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwells.

Escudero, Valentin and Friedlander, Myrna L., (2017) Therapeutic Alliances with Families: Empowering Clients in Challenging Cases. Cham (Switzerland): Springer International Publishing AG, 2017, 229 pp., ISBN 978‐3‐319‐59368‐5

Franklin, C., Zhang, A., Froerer, A., & Johnson, S. (2016) Solution Focused Brief Therapy: A systematic review and meta‐summary of process researchJournal of Marital and Family Therapy, 43(1): 16-30.

Friedlander, M.L., Heatherington, L., & Escudero, V. (2014). Research based change mechanisms: Advances in process research. In T. L. Sexton & J. Lebow (Eds.), Handbook of Family Therapy. (4th ed.) New York: Routledge.

Grácio, J., Gonçalves-Pereira, M. and Leff, J. (2016) What do we know about family interventions for psychosis at the process level? A systematic reviewFamily Process, 55: 79–90. doi: 10.1111/famp.12155

Hawkins, M., Johnson, D., Vargas, N., Peschio, J., Familiant, N., Ogurtsova, O., Graf, M. D. C., Perez Torres, S., Santacruz Salas, E., Mkandawire-Valhmu, L., Kako, P., Florsheim, P., Cho, Y., & Weinhardt, L. (2024). The triality of roles for the trilingual researcher: Processes from a community-engaged qualitative cross-language health study. Qualitative Research, 0(0).

Helps, S. (2017) The ethics of researching one’s own practiceJournal of Family Therapy. 39. 3: 348-365

van Hennick, R. & Hillewaere, B. (2017) Practice based evidence based practice. Navigating based on coordinated improvisation, collaborative learning and multi methods research in feedback informed systemic therapy. Journal of Family Therapy. 39. 3: 288-309

Kazdin, A.E. (2009) Understanding how and why psychotherapy leads to change. Psychotherapy Research, 19(4), pp. 418-28.

Laitila, A. (2016). Introducing novelties into therapeutic dialogue: The importance of minor shifts of the therapist. In M. Borcsa & P. Rober (Eds.), Research perspectives in couple therapy (pp. 31–46). Springer International Publishing.

Nanouri, K., Tseliou, E., Abakoumkin, G., & Bozatzis, N. (2022). ‘Who decided this?’: Negotiating epistemic and deontic authority in systemic family therapy training. Discourse Studies, 24(1), 94–114. https://doi.

Ong, B., Tseliou, E., Strong, T., & Buus, N. (2023). Power and dialogue: A review of discursive research. Family Process, 00, 1– 17.

Ong, B., Barnes, S., & Buus, N. (2021a). Downgrading deontic authority in open dialogue reflection proposals: A conver-
sation analysis. Family Process, 60(4), 1217–1232.

Ong, B., Barnes, S., & Buus, N. (2021b). Eliciting stance and mitigating therapist authority in open dialogue meetings. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 47(1), 120–135.

Ong, B., Barnes, S., & Buus, N. (2022). Developing multiple perspectives by eliding agreement: A conversation analysis of open dialogue reflections. Discourse Studies, 24(1), 47–64.

Pinsof, W.M and Wynne, L.C. (2000) Toward process research: closing the gap between family therapy practice and research. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 26: 1-8.

Rautiainen, E.-L. & Rautkallio, A.M. (2024) Co-research interview—collaborative way to learn from experience. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 00, 1–10. Available from:

Researching Narrative Therapy – how does it work?

Rober, P., Eesbeek, D., & Elliot, R. (2006). Talking about violence: A microanalysis of narrative processes in a family therapy session. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 32(3), 313–328.

Rossen, C. B., Schriver, K. N., Tarber, C., Nordahl, D. V., Thygesen Rasmussen, G., Ong, B., & Buus, N. (2020). “Y, what do you think about what X just said?” conversation analysis of stance-eliciting questions in open dialogue network meetings. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 46(4), 719–731.

Sexton, T. L., Ridley, C. R., & Kleiner, A. J. (2004) Beyond common factors: multilevel-process models of therapeutic change in marriage and family therapy. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 30: 131-149.

Sundet, R. (2012). Postmodern-oriented practices and patient-focused research: possibilities and hazards. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 33, pp 299-308 doi:10.1017/aft.2012.38

Tseliou, E., Burck, C., Forbat, L. Strong, T. & O’Reilly, M. (2020) The discursive performance of change process in systemic and constructionist therapies: A systematic meta-synthesis review of in-session therapy discourseFamily Process.

Tseliou, E., Burck, C., Forbat, L., Strong, T. and O’Reilly, M. (2020), How is Systemic and Constructionist Therapy Change Process Narrated in Retrospective Accounts of Therapy? A Systematic Meta‐synthesis Review. Family Process doi:10.1111/famp.12562

Analysis of in-session therapy discourse

Amoss, Sarah (2014) The negotiation of blame in family therapy with families affected by psychosis. DSysPsych thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Full text available

Avdi. E. (2015) Discourses of development in the consulting room: Analysing family therapy with childrenFeminism and Psychology. 25(3), pp. 363-380.

Avdi, E. (2012) Exploring the contribution of subject positioning to studying therapy as a dialogical enterpriseInternational Journal for Dialogical Science. 6(1), pp. 61-79.

Balestra, F. (2017) Analysing the relational components of systemic family therapy through the lenses of self positions and therapeutic alliance: an exploratory studyJournal of Family Therapy. 39. 3: 310-328

Bohme, H. (2017) New paradigms of parenthood: researching practice in a fertility clinic incarnating new forms of familyJournal of Family Therapy. 39. 3: 402-414.

Borsca, M & Rober, P. (2016) Research Perspectives in Couple Therapy. Discursive Qualitative Methods. Springer International.

Chenail, R. J., DeVincentis, M., Kiviat, H. E., & Somers, C. (2012). A systematic narrative review of discursive therapies research: Considering the value of circumstantial evidence. In A. Lock & T. Strong (Eds.), Discursive perspectives in therapeutic practice (pp. 224-244). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

D’Arrigo-Patrick, J., Hoff, C., Knudson-Martin, C. and Tuttle, A. (2016), Navigating critical theory and postmodernism: Social justice and therapist power in family therapy. Family Process. doi:10.1111/famp.12236.

Eira Nunes, C., Pascual‐Leone, A., de Roten, Y., Favez, N. and Darwiche, J. (2020). Resolving Coparenting Dissatisfaction In Couples: A Preliminary Task Analysis Study. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 00, 1‐ 15. doi:

Escudero, V., Boogmans, E. & Loots, G. (2012) Alliance rupture and repair in conjoint family therapy: An exploratory studyPsychotherapy, 49(1), pp. 26–37.

Gale, J. (2010) Discursive Analysis: A research approach for studying the moment-to-moment construction of meaning in systemic practiceHuman Systems, 21(2), pp. 7-37.

Guregård, S & Seikkula, J. (2014) Establishing therapeutic dialogue with refugee families. Contemporary Family Therapy. 36: 1.

Hellemans, S. et al (2011) Therapeutic processes in multi-family groups for major depression: Results of an interpretative phenomenological studyJournal of Affective Disorders 134(1-3) 226-34

Higham, J.E., Friedlander, M.L., Escudero, V. and Diamond, G. (2011) Engaging reluctant adolescents in family therapy: An exploratory study of in-session processes of changeJournal of Family Therapy, 34(1), pp. 24–52. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6427.2011.00571.x.

Itävuori, S., Korvela, E., Karvonen, A., Penttonen, M., Kaartinen, J., Kykyri, V.-L., & Seikkula, J. (2015). The significance of silent moments in creating words for the not-yet-spoken experiences in threat of divorce. Psychology, 6, 1360-1372.

Karvonen, A., Kykyri, V.-L., Kaartinen, J., Penttonen, M., Seikkula, J. (2016). Sympathetic nervous system synchrony in couple therapy. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. doi:10.1111/jmft.12152

Keeney, H., Keeney, B., & Chenail, R. J.(2012). Recursive frame analysis: A practitioner’s tool for mapping therapeutic conversationThe Qualitative Report, 17, pp. 1-15.

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..

Mandin, P. (2017) Creating a space to think in adversarial contexts: researching network meetings in statutuory childcare interventionsJournal of Family Therapy. 39. 3:329-347.

Oka, M., & Whiting, J. (2013). Bridging the clinician/researcher gap with systemic research: The case for process research, dyadic, and sequential analysis. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy39(1): 17-27.

Ong, B., Barnes, S. and Buus, N. (2020). Eliciting Stance and Mitigating Therapist Authority in Open Dialogue Meetings. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 00, 1‐ 16. doi:

van Parijs, H., Provoost, V., de Sutter, P., Pennings, G. & Buysse, A. (2017) Multi family members interview studies: a focus on data analysisJournal of Family Therapy. 39. 3: 386-401.

Patrika, P., & Tseliou, E. (2016). The ‘blame game’: Discourse analysis of family members and therapist negotiation of problem definition in systemic family therapy. European Journal of Counseling Psychology.

Patrika, P. & Tseliou, E. (2015). Blame, responsibility and systemic neutrality: a discourse analysis methodology to the study of family therapy problem talk. Journal of Family Therapy. Doi: 10.1111/1467-6427.12076

Rapsey, E.H.S., Burbach, F.R. & Reibstein, J. (2015) Exploring the process of family interventions for psychosis in relation to attachment, attributions and problem-maintaining cycles: An IPA studyJournal of Family Therapy 37(4). DOI:10.1111/1467-6427.12085

Roy-Chowdhury, S. (2006), How is the therapeutic relationship talked into being?. Journal of Family Therapy, 28: 153-174.

Seikkula, J. et al (2015) The embodied attunement of therapists and a couple within dialogical psychotherapy: An introduction to the relational mind research project. Family Process 54(4), pp.703-715.

Sequeira, J. & Alarcão, M. (2013). Assessment system of narrative changeJournal of Systemic Therapies, 32(4), pp. 33-51.

Singh, R. (2008) The process of family talk across culture. Tavistock Systemic Psychotherapy Doctorate Thesis.

Smoliak, O., LaMarre, A., Rice, C., Tseliou, E., LeCouteur, A., Myers, M., Vesely, L., Briscoe, C., Addison, M. and Velikonja, L. (2021), The politics of vulnerable masculinity in couple therapy. J Marital Fam Ther.

Smoliak, O., MacMartin, C., Hepburn, A., Le Couteur, A., Elliott, R. and Quinn‐Nilas, C. (2021), Authority in therapeutic interaction: A conversation analytic study. J Marital Fam Ther.

Sundet, R. et al (2016) Collaboration: Suggested UnderstandingsAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 37, pp. 93–104. doi: 10.1002/anzf.1137

Timulak, L. (2007). Identifying core categories of client-identified impact of helpful events in psychotherapy: A qualitative meta-analysis. Psychotherapy Research, 17(3), 305-314.

Timulak, L. (2010). Significant events in psychotherapy: An update of research findings. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 83(4), 421-447.

Tseliou, E., Burck, C., Forbat, L. Strong, T. & O’Reilly, M. (2020) The discursive performance of change process in systemic and constructionist therapies: A systematic meta-synthesis review of in-session therapy discourseFamily Process.

Tseliou, E. (2013). A critical methodological review of discourse and conversation analysis studies of family therapy. Family Process, 52(4), 653-672. doi: 10.1111/famp.12043

van Hennik, R. and Hillewaere, B. (2017), Practice Based Evidence Based Practice. Navigating based on coordinated improvisation, collaborative learning and multi-methods research in Feedback Informed Systemic Therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 39: 288-309.

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,

Wulff et al (2015) Unpacking the pips to hips curiosity: a narrative study. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 34(2), pp. 45–58.

Wulff, D., George, S.S., Tomm, K. (2015) Societal discourses that help in family therapy: a modified situational analysis of the relationships between societal expectations and healing patterns in parent-child conflictJournal of Systemic Therapies, 34(2), pp. 31-44.

Post-hoc accounts of therapy process

Chenail, R.J. (2011) How to conduct clinical qualitative research on the patient’s experience. The Qualitative Report 16(4), pp. 1173-1190

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

Egeli et al (2014) Couples’ Experiences of Vulnerability When Participating in the Reflecting Team Process: A Case StudyCanadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy / Revue canadienne de counseling et de psychothérapie. 48(4), pp. 20–39. ISSN 0826-3893

Helimäki, M., Laitila, A. and Kumpulainen, K. (2022), “You helped me out of that darkness” Children as dialogical partners in the collaborative post-family therapy research interview. J Marital Fam Ther, 48: 588-603.

Helmeke, K. B. and Sprenkle, D. H. (2000) Clients’ perceptions of pivotal moments in couples therapy: a qualitative study of change in therapyJournal of Marital and Family Therapy, 26, pp. 469–483.

Hicks, S., Jakob, P. and Kustner, C. (2020), Engaging a family’s support network in non‐violent resistance: the experiences of supporters. Journal of Family Therapy, 42: 252-270. doi:10.1111/1467-6427.12261

Kysely et al (2020) Expectations and experiences of couples receiving therapy through videoconferencing: A qualitative study. Frontiers in Psychology.

Ladmanová, M., Řiháček, T., & Timulak, L. (2022), Client-Identified Impacts of Helpful and Hindering Events in Psychotherapy: A Qualitative Meta-analysis, Psychotherapy Research, 32(6), 723-735.

McDonald, R.J., Signal, T. and Canoy, D. (2021), Family Therapy for Conduct Disorder: Parent/Caregiver Perspectives on Active Ingredients. Aust N Z J Fam Ther.

Rautiainen, E.-L. & Rautkallio, A.M. (2024) Co-research interview—collaborative way to learn from experience. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 00, 1–10. Available from:

Salter, L. (2017) Research as resistance and solidarity: ‘spinning transformative yarns’ – a narrative inquiry with women going on from abuse and oppressionJournal of Family Therapy. 39. 3: 366-385

Tilden, T. (2020) The idiographic voice in a nomothetic world: Why client feedback is essential in our professional knowledge. in Ochs, M., Borcsa, M. & Schweitzer, J. (2020) Systemic Research in Individual, Couple and Family Therapy and Counseling. Springer.

Tseliou, E., Burck, C., Forbat, L., Strong, T. and O’Reilly, M. (2020), How is Systemic and Constructionist Therapy Change Process Narrated in Retrospective Accounts of Therapy? A Systematic Meta‐synthesis Review. Family Process doi:10.1111/famp.12562

Wiseman, H., Ensoll, S., Russouw, L. & Butler, C. (2019) Multi-Family Therapy for Young People With Anorexia Nervosa: Clinicians’ and Carers’ Perspectives on Systemic ChangesJournal of Systemic Therapies   38, 3, 67-83

Yap‐Tan, P.M.E.H. and Foo, M.T.S. (2020), Clients’ perspectives on therapists who build family and personal harmony. Journal of Family Therapy, 42: 271-290. doi:10.1111/1467-6427.12265