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As part of The Family Institute's mission, we are committed to using clinical science to improve the effectiveness of our interventions. Clinical Science Insights, a quarterly publication series, distills our research expertise in a way that is relevant to both clinical practice and everyday life.

In this forum, our postdoctoral fellows, clinical staff and affiliates share their expert knowledge on a variety of topics relevant to families today – from child development, to innovative treatments for depression and anxiety, to best parenting practices, to the latest research on what works in couples therapy – just to name a few. These succinct summaries of the latest empirical research and theory on issues relevant to families are written for professional and lay audiences alike.

Navigating the Transition between Childhood and Young Adulthood

Adolescence is often viewed negatively — as a difficult time of transition that exposes youth to a range of risk factors. Indeed, research has demonstrated that children are at increased risk for drug and alcohol use, sexual risk behavior, and physical fights as they transition into adolescence (Brooks, Harris, Thrall, Woods, et al. 2002). However, while adolescents face increased risk factors, most do not succumb to them.

The Importance of Incorporating Siblings in the Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2009), an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is commonly characterized by severe deficits in social communication and interaction that can be seen in various ways such as poor nonverbal communication, inappropriate social exchanges, or lack of skills in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships (APA, 2013). Along with better awareness and…

Discernment Counseling

One of the most complicated scenarios in couple therapy involves the situation in which one or both partners express uncertainty about trying to preserve their marriage. As described by Doherty (2011), this “mixed-agenda” couple occurs when one partner prefers to save the marriage (“leaning in”), while the other partner wishes to end it (“leaning out”). When couples come to the brink of divorce before they seek professional counseling, their respective agendas for couple…

Talking Badly About Your Co-Parent Backfires

Parental denigration was reported by adult children to occur in married, divorced, and never married families, with greater frequency in divorced and never married families. Across all types of families, mothers were reported to denigrate significantly more frequently than fathers. This finding, which was especially strong in divorced families, may be due to the fact that children generally spend more time in their mother’s care. Alternatively, it may be that mothers are…

Danger Signs in Romantic Relationships

Problems in intimate relationships are associated with a host of negative psychological and physical health consequences, such as depression, anxiety, and heart disease (Hawkins & Booth, 2005; Fincham & Beach, 2010; Whisman, 2007). Researchers have identified several types of interpersonal behaviors among couples that predict relationship distress or break-up/divorce; these are referred to as danger signs. Danger signs can take many forms, from aggressive behavior…

Caring for the Caregivers

Chronic health conditions, or psychological or physical health conditions that persist for 3 months or longer (Newacheck & Taylor, 1992), are quite common. About half of all adults in the U.S. have at least one chronic health condition, and about 25% have two or more (Ward, Schiller, & Goodman, 2014). While arthritis and muscoskeletal conditions are the leading cause of activity limitations among working-age adults, psychological disorders are the second leading…

Infidelity in the Internet Age

Through our use of cell phones, laptops, and tablets, we can feel as though we are more “connected” than ever before. We can check Facebook posts, send emails, stream video, or text our partners – all while sitting on the bus, in Starbucks or at work. But the question remains: Does this tethering to the Internet lead to greater intimacy and connection with ourselves and the ones we love, or does it simply provide an illusion of intimacy? What happens to those individuals who…

Trauma and Mindfulness

The American Psychological Association defines trauma as an experience during which a person is directly or indirectly exposed to actual or threatened death or serious injury (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2000). In this definition, scholars include events such as combat, childhood abuse, and rape. Current literature also describes trauma as betrayal, illness, infidelity, job loss, divorce, racism, and other events that threaten one’s well-being (Levine…