Improving Mental Health Care Through Clinical Research

The Family Institute is dedicated to intervention - making a difference in the lives of families, couples and individuals from all walks of life. Through research, we scientifically investigate our interventions to better understand the therapeutic process and to develop improved treatments. As one of the leading centers for marriage and family therapy, with a large and diverse client population, The Family Institute is uniquely positioned to pursue path-breaking research on families and relationships.

The Institute's clinical research activities are focused on three areas:

  • The process and determinants of how people change in psychotherapy
  • Anxiety and mood disorders over the life course, within the context of the family
  • The relationship between illness and couple functioning

Research at The Family Institute is conducted under the auspices of Northwestern University's Center for Applied Psychological and Family Studies. The Center is operated by The Family Institute and housed at our headquarters in Evanston, Illinois. All research projects receive approval from the Northwestern University Institutional Review Board to ensure protection to volunteer participants enrolled in studies.

Current Research Initiatives

Dan J. Epstein Family Foundation Center for Psychotherapy Change
Principal Investigator: Jacob Goldsmith, PhD
This long-term research project aims to delineate how people change in psychotherapy, to identify the therapist behaviors associated with those changes, and to develop a procedure for regularly feeding that information back to therapists during the process of therapy.

Anxiety and Panic Laboratory
Principal Investigator: Richard Zinbarg, PhD
The Anxiety and Panic Laboratory studies the assessment, development, treatment and prevention of anxiety and panic disorders. The laboratory is the research arm of the Anxiety and Panic Treatment Program which is a joint program of Northwestern University's Department of Psychology and The Family Institute at Northwestern University.

Depression, Anxiety, Relationship Distress and Couples
Principal Investigator: Lynne Knobloch-Fedders, PhD
This project investigates the links between interpersonal behavior, relationship distress, depression, and generalized anxiety disorder in couples, with the goal of improving psychotherapy outcomes for this population.

Relationships and Health Project
Co-Principal Investigator: Tamara Goldman Sher, PhD
This research examines the implications of different romantic relationship arrangements on an individual's health.

The Pryor Lab 
Principal Investigator, Jessica Rohlfing Pryor, PhD
The Pryor Lab predominantly examines maladaptive expressions and features of perfectionism (e.g., personality, interpersonal style) and their implications for interpersonal functioning (e.g., intimacy, self-disclosure, help-seeking).


The Research Program at The Family Institute is supported, in part, by gifts and grants from individuals, families, and foundations. Your contribution will help us continue important research work and advance the science and practice of mental health care. To make a gift online, please click here. If you prefer to send your gift by mail, please mail it to Institutional Advancement Department, 8 S. Michigan, Ste. 500, Chicago, IL 60603.

Family Institute Research Staff