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date: 08 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The conceptual underpinnings, fundamental assumptions, and interventions used in couple and family therapy (CFT) are consistent with counseling psychology’s traditional emphasis on normative development and person–environment fit, and its focus on clients’ problems in living, resilience, and cultural context rather than psychiatric diagnoses. In this chapter, we begin by outlining the history of the couple and family therapy movement, identifying the central systems constructs and assumptions, and providing an overview of several classic and contemporary approaches to conjoint treatment. Next, we describe eight exemplary programs of efficacy research that address the question, “For whom does CFT work?” Finally, addressing the question, “How does CFT work?,” we summarize the theory and research on three basic mechanisms of change in conjoint treatment: therapeutic alliance, reframing, and enactment. The chapter concludes with recommended future directions for the field—theoretical, empirical, and practical.

Keywords: couple and family therapy, systems theory, psychotherapy outcome, psychotherapy process, therapeutic alliance, enactment, reframing

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