16 Family Therapy

Clinical Psychology


  1. Jay Lebow PhD, ABPP1,
  2. Catherine B. Stroud PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop208016

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Lebow, J. and Stroud, C. B. 2012. Family Therapy. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 8:II:16.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Family Institute at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

  2. 2

    Williams College, Department of Psychology, Williamstown, MA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Family therapy is a set of treatment methods based in a systemic understanding of mutual influence in family systems, and which typically involve the presence of more than one family member in treatment. Research finds the effect sizes of couple and family therapy to be approximately the same as in individual therapy, with 70% of clients showing significant improvement. The first major schools of family therapy included structural family therapy, strategic therapy, Bowen therapy, and experiential, cognitive, and psychoanalytic therapies. Ideas and intervention strategies from each of these schools have influenced present practice. Today, many major forms of family therapy are largely integrative, including multidimensional, multi-systemic, and functional family therapies and integrative behavioral and emotionally focused couple therapies. Understandings of culture and gender are crucial foundations of today's family therapies.


  • family therapy;
  • family systems;
  • couple therapy