Society for Couple and Family Psychology President

Welcome to Div. 43 (Society of Couple and Family Psychology).

The specialty of couple and family psychology provides: 

  • Effective couple and family-based clinical assessments and interventions that target serious social and psychological issues that are among those most frequently presented to health service providers. 
  • Knowledge about the relational processes that influence the development, prognosis and treatment of psychopathology. 
  • Knowledge about the effectiveness of family and couple-based clinical assessments and interventions with diverse populations in diverse settings.
  • Mechanisms to transport effective family- and couple-based treatment models from university settings to community-based mental health agencies and the private sector. 

The need for couple and family psychology (CFP) stems from the clinical demand for couple and family-based interventions. Indeed, couple and family clinical issues are one of the most frequent referrals to psychological practitioners (Sexton et al., 2003). CFP interventions address a variety of clinical needs embedded within the individual, family and social context of familial relationships. These include, but are not limited to: family developmental needs, psychopathology, family and intimate partner violence, marriage and divorce, LGBT families, military families, juvenile delinquency, elder care, homelessness, family migration and chronic illness. Research suggests that these and other clinical problems are best addressed through couple and family-based intervention programs (Carr, 2014; Datchi & Sexton, 2016; Sexton et al., 2013). Increasingly, couple and family psychologists are employed in many kinds of private and public settings, in rural as well as urban and suburban communities (Datchi, Baglieri, & Catanzariti, in press). They also are gaining more acceptance in medical settings in the role of family systems medicine (Ruddy & McDaniel, 2016). 

Couple and family psychology research is critical to the success of couple and family psychology practice in addressing the needs of the public. It produces knowledge that can be translated into treatment recommendations about what works best with whom under what conditions. The hallmark of couple and family psychology is the emphasis on evidence-based practice, in particular, the development, testing and dissemination of empirically based clinical programs that target youth and adult problems in the context of couple and family relationships. 

Couple and family therapy is only one component of the specialty of couple and family psychology. The specialty also includes the development and testing of clinical tools for assessing family and couple functioning (e.g., Family Assessment Device, Family Environment Scale, Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale, [Crucible Differentiation Scale]); consultation with broader systems such as school systems, primary health care agencies, family businesses and justice systems that affect the functioning of individuals, couples and families; and training and supervision of CFP practitioners in the context of the dissemination of multisystemic treatment programs nationally and internationally. Assessment, consultation, training and supervision are interconnected with CFP practice — they are activities that address the public needs for faculty members that educate and supervise students in both research and clinical practice and for clinicians who are highly trained and skilled in treating families and couples as systems and sub-systems both to prevent pathology, treat existing pathology and to help families and subsystems within the family become more functional. These factors are keys ways in which couple and family psychologists differ from other family focused professions (e.g., social work, marriage and family therapy). 

(Note: Adapted from Petition for the Recognition of a Specialty in Professional Psychology, by T. Sexton, Chair, 2017, pp. 12-13)

If you are interested in couple and family psychology, Div. 43 is your home. We are especially proud of the depth and breadth with which our student and early career members are involved in the division, in addition to well-established researchers and practitioners.

On this website, you will find much of what you need related to couple and family psychology. You can read our newsletter, The Family Psychologist, learn about the latest research and practice in our journal Couple and Family Psychology, get information on our news, events and convention program and access a variety of tools to help you with your teaching, research, practice and internship, post-doc and job searches. In addition, we are introducing an online continuing education (CE) courses to help prepare you for the field and for ABPP in couple and family psychology.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to get you more involved in the division or to make Div. 43 a more rewarding home for you.

Warmly,

Susan Regas, PhD
Div. 43 President
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