Intervention Research in Couple and Family Therapy: A Methodological and Substantive Review and an Introduction to the Special Issue


  • Douglas H. Sprenkle, PhD, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Purdue University.

concerning this article should be addressed to Douglas H. Sprenkle, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Fowler House, 1200 W. State Street, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907. E-mail:


This article serves as an introduction to this third version of research reviews of couple and family therapy (CFT) that have appeared in this journal beginning in 1995. It also presents a methodological and substantive overview of research in couple and family therapy from about 2001/2002 to 2010/2011 (the period covered in this issue), while also making connections with previous research. The article introduces quantitative research reviews of family-based intervention research that appear in this issue on 10 substantive areas including conduct disorder/delinquency, drug abuse, childhood and adolescent disorders (not including the aforementioned), family psycho-education for major mental illness, alcoholism, couple distress, relationship education, affective disorders, interpersonal violence, and chronic illness. The paper also introduces the first qualitative research paper in this series, as well as a paper that highlights current methodologies in meta-analysis. The first part of this article rates the 10 content areas on 12 dimensions of methodological strength for quantitative research and makes generalizations about the state of quantitative methodology in CFT. The latter part of the papers summarizes and makes comments on the substantive findings in the 12 papers in this issue, as well as on the field as a whole.