Leeds Family Therapy Research Centre (LFTRC) is a productive forum for studying families and family therapy. The Centre has collaborative and creative working relationships with key family therapists around and beyond the UK. The question of what counts as research has become a central preoccupation for systemic family therapy as it has for related disciplines, along with questions relating to the purpose of undertaking research. There has been a strong shift towards developing a variety of qualitative research methods which lend themselves to the sensitive nature of work with families, together with a recognition from within the field of systemic and family therapy of the need to demonstrate efficacy of the work, and so contribute to the evidence base for psychotherapies.
This need for systemic and family therapy to make its successes more visible has led to the development of research methods and tools for measuring and reporting on outcomes of the clinical work. The LFTRC team has produced the unique Leeds Systemic Family Therapy Manual (Pote, H., Stratton, P., Cottrell, D., Boston, P., Shapiro, D. & Hanks, H (2001). University of Leeds: The Family Therapy Research Centre) and Therapist Adherence Protocol. This manual is the product of a research project funded by the Medical Research Council (Principal Investigator Peter Stratton, Researcher Helen Pote). It is designed to be used both to standardize the therapeutic process in controlled outcome research, and also as a resource for training. The research process undertaken to produce the manual is described in: Pote, H., Stratton, P., Cottrell, D., Shapiro, D., & Boston, P. (2003). Systemic family therapy can be manualised: Research process and findings. Journal of Family Therapy. 25: 236-262. And Allison, S., Perlesz, A., Pote, H., Stratton, P.,& Cottrell, D.(2002) Extended Dialogue About Significant Developments: Manualising Systemic Family Therapy: The Leeds Manual. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 23(3), 153-158.
SHIFT - Self-Harm Intervention Family Therapy
In 2009, The University of Leeds and NHS Leeds obtained significant funding of more than £4.5 million, to establish whether a regime of family therapy is an effective interventional technique for self harming young people. Funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme, the project involves 15 NHS organisations and three universities and will work with more than 800 young people and their families. The study is being conducted in three research hubs: Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and London with the University of Leeds and NHS Leeds acting as lead investigators. Services in Bradford, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Halifax, York, Greater Manchester, and parts of South West and North London serving a total population of 8.1 million will also collaborate. Professor David Cottrell (Family Therapist), is leading the trial. Paula Boston (LFTRC, Leeds) and Ivan Eisler (Institute of Psychiatry, London) have updated the original LFTRC manual and adapted it for this population and continue to supervise the family therapists joined by Charlotte Burck (Tavistock and Portman Institute).
During the trial, family therapy will be delivered by 20 specially trained family therapists using a research-based and clinically tested manualised approach. Half of those who agree to take part in the study will be randomly selected to receive treatment as usual the treatment programme currently offered and the other half will receive a dedicated programme of family therapy. Each family undergoes a six-month course of family therapy or treatment as usual with regular follow-up over 18 months to determine whether there is any difference in the effectiveness of both treatment approaches in reducing repeat incidents of self-harm. Both groups will be treated in the service local to where they live and will receive approximately eight sessions of treatment. The study will be complete in 2014. More details on here.
Emeritus Professor Peter Stratton is now the Development Officer for the Academic and Research Committee at the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice to develop SCORE - an assessment measure for family therapy.
Download this Report on the Evidence Base of Systemic Family Therapy by Prof. Peter Stratton who prepared this for the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice.