1st Edition

Common Factors in Couple and Family Therapy
The Overlooked Foundation for Effective Practice

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ISBN 9781462514533
Published January 19, 2014 by Guilford Press
226 Pages

USD $30.00

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Book Description

Grounded in theory, research, and extensive clinical experience, this pragmatic book addresses critical questions of how change occurs in couple and family therapy and how to help clients achieve better results. The authors show that regardless of a clinician’s orientation or favored techniques, there are particular therapist attributes, relationship variables, and other factors that make therapy—specifically, therapy with couples and families—effective. The book explains these common factors in depth and provides hands-on guidance for capitalizing on them in clinical practice and training. User-friendly features include numerous case examples and a reproducible common factors checklist.

Table of Contents

1. What Is Responsible for Therapeutic Change?: Two Paradigms
2. A Brief History of Common Factors
3. Common Factors Unique to Couple and Family Therapy
4. The Big-Picture View of Common Factors
5. A Moderate View of Common Factors
6. Getting Clients Fired Up for a Change: Matching Therapist Behavior with Client Motivation
7. A Strong Therapeutic Alliance
8. Models: All Roads Lead to Rome
9. A Meta-Model of Change in Couple Therapy
10. The Case against Common Factors
11. Common Factors Training and Supervision
12. Implications for Clinicians and Researchers
Appendix A. Moderate Common Factors Supervision Checklist
Appendix B. Instruments from Other Authors Related to Common Factors

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Douglas H. Sprenkle, PhD, until his death in 2018, was Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, where he was developer and former Director of the Doctoral Program in Marriage and Family Therapy Dr. Sprenkle was past Editor of the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy and the author or editor of over 130 scholarly articles and books. He received the Osborne Award from the National Council on Family Relations, which is given biannually for outstanding teaching, and the Outstanding Contribution to Marriage and Family Therapy Award, the Cumulative Career Contribution to Marriage and Family Therapy Research Award, and the Training Award from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Dr. Sprenkle also won the Award for Significant Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice from the American Family Therapy Academy.

Sean D. Davis, PhD, LMFT, is Associate Professor at the Couple and Family Therapy Program at Alliant International University's campus in Sacramento, California, as well as an approved supervisor and clinical member of the AAMFT. Dr. Davis also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. His research, clinical, and teaching interests focus on common factors and bridging the scientist-practitioner gap in marriage and family therapy. His dissertation on common factors won the AAMFT Graduate Student Research Award and the AAMFT Dissertation Award. Dr. Davis has published several journal articles and books, including, most recently, What Makes Couples Therapy Work? and The Family Therapy Treatment Planner, Second Edition (with Frank M. Dattilio and Arthur Jongsma), and maintains a private practice.

Jay L. Lebow, PhD, is Clinical Professor of Psychology at the Family Institute at Northwestern University. He has conducted clinical practice, supervision, and research on couple and family therapy for over 30 years. He is board certified in family psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology and is an approved supervisor of the AAMFT. Dr. Lebow is the author of 100 book chapters and articles, most of which focus on the interface of research and practice and the practice of integrative couple and family therapy. His published books include Research for the Psychotherapist and four edited volumes, including the Handbook of Clinical Family Therapy. He is a past president of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association and is involved in the Family Institute's Psychotherapy Change Project. Dr. Lebow is the current editor of Family Process.


''This thought-provoking book offers the reader an outstanding resource for identifying common factors that drive the change process in relational psychotherapies. As the number of available modalities grows with each passing day, students, clinicians, and researchers will find the paradigm presented here to be extremely useful in isolating what is specifically responsible for change and figuring out how to incorporate it into doing what we do best. A 'must read.'"--Frank M. Dattilio, PhD, ABPP, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
"A long-awaited, critically important contribution. The authors offer a guidebook for understanding and integrating the common factors that cut across distinct therapies, and also present an extraordinarily thoughtful and nonpolemical examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the common factors strategy. This book will help advanced therapists better understand and sharpen what they do; will help intermediate and beginning-level therapists discover and utilize potent common factors that will enhance their effectiveness; will help theorists cast their ideas in a more generic and universally accessible language; and will help researchers integrate common factors into their hypotheses and research designs. A huge step ahead for our field--read it."--William M. Pinsof, PhD, private practice, Chicago, Illinois

"Countering the stampede to find the best model--or silver bullet--for therapeutic change, Sprenkle, Davis, and Lebow, seasoned researchers and practitioners, draw out the common elements across models that facilitate effective change. Since no single model can best fit the broad diversity of clients and challenges in our complex and uncertain world, their practical approach is especially valuable for clinical training and practice."--Froma Walsh, MSW, PhD, Mose and Sylvia Firestone Professor Emerita, School of Social Service Administration and Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, and Codirector, Chicago Center for Family Health

"The best antidote yet to technique-heavy approaches to couple and family therapy. This book restores appropriate attention to the role and the person of the therapist, and urges therapeutic flexibility and creativity. It is 'must' reading for anyone engaged in learning about systems-oriented therapy or teaching and supervising couple and family therapists."--Alan S. Gurman, PhD, Department of Psychiatry (Emeritus), University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

"Using research as a guide, the authors identify the critical skills that therapists need to be effective. This book is an excellent text for practicum classes in training programs because it helps novice therapists identify the critical skills they need regardless of their supervisor, clients, clinical site, and other variables that influence their training."--JoEllen Patterson, PhD, Marital and Family Therapy Program, University of San Diego