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A Survey of Homework Use, Experience of Barriers to Homework, and Attitudes About the Barriers to Homework Among Couples and Family Therapists


  • Frank M. Dattilio is on the Faculty of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Nikolaos Kazantzis is on the Faculty at the School of Psychological Science at La Trobe University; Gregg Shinkfield is a staff psychologist at the Barossa Unit, Thomas Embling Hospital; Amanda G. Carr is a doctoral candidate in the Counseling Psychology program at Lehigh University.

Address correspondence to Frank M. Dattilio, Harvard Medical School, 1251 S. Cedar Crest Blvd., Suite 304 D, Allentown, Pennsylvania 18103; E-mail:


Homework is a therapeutic process that has strong theoretical and empirical basis, but existing research has focused on “compliance” rather than considering the broader and more clinically meaningful construct of “engagement.” Absent in the literature is empirical study of the barriers to engagement or study of homework use among couple and family therapists (CFTs). The current study investigates the frequency and type of homework, as well as the influence of homework compliance, quality of compliance, and experience of barriers to compliance on CFTs’ attitudes and beliefs toward barriers to homework completion for couples and families. Results indicated CFTs (N = 226 AAMFT Clinical members) use homework more often with couples than with families, and CFTs report greater homework compliance and quality of compliance for couples when compared to families. A path analysis examining compliance, quality of compliance, and barriers to compliance as predictors of attitudes/beliefs toward barriers revealed no significant findings. A discussion presents implications for future research and practice for homework in couple and family therapy.