chapter  16
49 Pages

Research in Marriage and Family Therapy

WithRichard J. Bischoff

In my undergraduate program in family studies, I had an instructor who during a class asked students to raise their hands if they disliked research, statistics, and math. Nearly every hand shot up amid chuckles of recognition. He then commented that this was just as he had expected, and that in his opinion this is one of the primary reasons students gravitate toward the social sciences, including marriage and family therapy. He explained that students of the social sciences succeed without analytical and research skills and without interest in either (a point with which I absolutely disagree!). I don’t remember the specifi c reasons he gave for his comment, but the crux of it was that family studies and family therapy are driven more by informal theory than by formal theory and the results of research-the whole art of practice trumps the science of practice argument. As a faculty member in a family science/family therapy program now more than 25 years later, I have observed that not much has changed. Few of my students have a particular interest in research, and most profess a lack of analytic skill. This is true for both undergraduate and graduate students. Research methods and statistics courses are often dreaded and, in many cases, put off until they cannot be avoided any longer. It is as if students are secretly hoping that the program requirements will change so that these courses will be removed before they have to take them! I suspect that most of you reading this chapter are doing so begrudgingly.