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MFS Evidence Based Practice

Evidence-based practice or EBP involves using empirical data to determine the best outcome for a client. Rather than relying on a particular theoretical model, one would use data from existing research in order to create clinical questions. The resulting clinical choices are then ultimately guided by empirical research (Patterson, Miller, Carnes, & Wilson, 2004).

Evidence-based practice evolved in the medical field, but it has great significance for marriage and family therapists. For some time the field of marriage and family therapy lagged behind in its efforts to incorporate empirically supported research. Therapists were following the lead of charismatic figureheads in the field rather than relying upon empirical foundations. However, as the field has progressed and continued to evolve more emphasis has been placed on using empirical research to guide therapists in their decision making. For more information on the history of evidence-based practice as well as the advantages and disadvantages of using EBPs, please refer to Patterson et al. (2004) included in the Additional Resources section of this guide.

EBP, which can be more broadly defined as a set of practices including other interventions, supports, and services, may or may not include empirically supported treatments (EST). ESTs are empirically determined treatments based on randomized clinical trials (RCTs). ESTs are solitary intervention or treatment approaches aimed at a specific disorder or difficulty. Study conditions are scientifically controlled and follow a strict manualized approach in order to ensure reliability of the model (Martinez, n.d.).

How to find more information on a specific EBP

First, try searching SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). NREPP is a searchable online registry of more than 340 substance abuse and mental health interventions. NREPP was developed to help the public learn more about evidence-based interventions that are available for implementation.

Using the tabs across the top of the search box, you have the options of using Basic Search, Advanced Search, or you can View All Interventions. Detailed records for each intervention include an overview, descriptive information, quality of research, readiness for dissemination, costs, replications, and contact information.

Now that you have more information on a particular EBP you may want to take a look at research studies that have employed it. If you found a record for the EBP within NREPP, we first recommend that you examine the Replications section of the record. Scroll down past the Descriptive Information to find this area of the record. Here you will find citations for studies that replicated the associated EBP.

How to find studies inside NCU Library

Roadrunner Search

Once you have identified citation(s) within the Replications section, you may proceed back to NCU Library and try searching for these resources by title. Simply copy and paste the article title into the Roadrunner Search box found on the Library’s homepage. Make sure to surround the title with quotation marks, select Title from the drop-down field, and check mark the box next to Full Text.


This authoritative database provides full text, cover-to-cover indexing for journals indexed in MEDLINE. These top journals cover a wide range of subjects within the biomedical and health fields containing information needed by doctors, nurses, health professionals and researchers engaged in clinical care, public health and health policy development.

To access MEDLINE go to the NCU Library home page and select Databases. Scroll down and select MEDLINE. MEDLINE features a unique search limiter for EBM Reviews.

The EBM Reviews limiter is a quick method to limit your search to the following 6 titles within MEDLINE:

  1. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
  2. ACP Journal Club
  3. Clinical Evidence
  4. Evidence-based Mental Health
  5. Evidence-based Nursing
  6. Evidence report/Technology assessment

This limiter is valuable as it limits your search to a small set of titles that apply very strict criteria and thus include high-quality evidence-based content, including systematic reviews.

To search for EBM reviews in MEDLINE, first type in your search term(s).

Next, scroll down to the Search Options area and check mark the box next to EBM Reviews.

Please note, it is recommended that you keep searches broad when looking for EBM Reviews as check marking this box will likely only return a small set of titles.

How to find studies outside NCU Library

The Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library is a collection of six databases that contain different types of high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making. One of these databases, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials or CENTRAL, is a highly concentrated source of reports of randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials. 

Search for your intervention by name occurring within the Title, Abstract, Keywords. Remember to utilize phrase searching to ensure the most accurate results.

Please note, the Cochrane Library can be searched for free, however Northcentral University Library does not have a subscription to this database. Please request articles through the Interlibrary Loan service. For information about using The Cochrane Library see How to use The Cochrane Library help page.

Trip Database

Trip is a clinical search engine designed to allow users to quickly and easily find and use high-quality research evidence to support their practice and/or care. Trip has been online since 1997 and in that time has developed into the Internet’s premier source of evidence-based content.

After conducting a search for an EBP by name, you can further refine results by using the filtering options found on the right hand side of your results screen. For instance, you can narrow your results strictly to Controlled Trials.

For more information on searching Trip please see the How to use Trip help page. Please note, if you come across a result not available in full text you may request it through the Interlibrary Loan service

MFS Evidence Based Practice Research Articles

Classical Models

Structural Family Therapy

Barkley, R. A., Guevremont, D. C., Anastopoulos, A., & Fletcher, K. F. (1992). A comparison of three family therapy programs for treating family conflicts in adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60, 450–462.

Henggeler, S. W., & Sheidow, A. J. (2012). Empirically supported family-based treatments for conduct disorder and delinquency in adolescents. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38, 30-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00244.x

Szapocznik, J., Rio, A., Murray, E., Cohen, R., Scopetta, M., & Rivas-Valquez, A., ... Kurtines, W. (1989). Structural family versus psychodynamic child therapy for problematic Hispanic boys. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57, 571–578.

Weaver, A., Greeno, C., Marcus, S., Fusco, R., Zimmerman, T., & Anderson, C. (2013). Effects of structural family therapy on child and maternal mental health symptomatologyResearch on Social Work Practice, 23(3), 294-303.


Santisteban, D. A., Suarez-Morales, L., Robbins, M. S., & Szapocznik, J. (2006). Brief strategic family therapy: Lessons learned in efficacy research and challenges to blending research and practiceFamily Process45(2), 259–271.


Bartle-Haring, S., & Lal, A. (2010). Using Bowen theory to examine progress in couple therapyFamily Journal18(2), 106. doi:10.1177/1066480710364479

Farmer, C. & Geller, M. (2005). The integration of psychodrama with Bowen's theories in couples therapy. Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Psychodrama & Sociometry, 58(2), 70-85.

Knauth, D. G. (2003). Family secrets: An illustrative clinical case study guided by Bowen family systems theoryJournal of Family Nursing9(3), 331-344. doi:10.1177/1074840703255451

Miller, R. B., Anderson, S., & Keala, D. K. (2004). Is Bowen theory valid? A review of basic researchJournal of Marital And Family Therapy30(4), 453-466.


Brubacher, L. (2006). Integrating emotion-focused therapy with the Satir modelJournal of Marital & Family Therapy32(2), 141-153.

Cag, P., & Acarb, N. V. (2015). A view of the symbolic-experiential family therapy of Carl Whitaker through movie analysisEducational Sciences: Theory & Practice15(3), 575-586. doi:10.12738/estp.2015.3.2477


Furrow, J. L., Edwards, S. A., Choi, Y., & Bradley, B. (2012). Therapist presence in emotionally focused couple therapy blamer softening events: promoting change through emotional experienceJournal of Marital And Family Therapy38 Suppl 139-49. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2012.00293.x

Greenman, P. S., & Johnson, S. M. (2012). United we stand: emotionally focused therapy for couples in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorderJournal Of Clinical Psychology68(5), 561-569. doi:10.1002/jclp.21853

Wood, N., Crane, D., Schaalje, G., & Law, D. (2005). What works for whom: A meta-analytic review of marital and couples therapy in reference to marital distressAmerican Journal of Family Therapy33(4), 273-287. doi:10.1080/01926180590962147

Internal Family Therapy

Schwartz, R. C. (2013). Moving from acceptance toward transformation with Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS)Journal of Clinical Psychology69(8), 805-816. doi:10.1002/jclp.22016


Friedman, M. (1989). Martin Buber and Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy: The role of dialogue in contextual therapy. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training26(3), 402-409. doi:10.1037/h0085452

Gangamma, R., Bartle-Haring, S., & Glebova, T. (2012). A study of contextual therapy theory's relational ethics in couples in therapyFamily Relations61(5), 825-835.


Mendelsohn, R. (2014). Five types of "couple object-relations" seen in couple therapy: implications for theory and practice. Psychoanalytic Review101(1), 95-128. doi:10.1521/prev.2014.101.1.95

Scharff, J. S., & Scharff, D. E. (1997). Object relations couple therapyAmerican Journal of Psychotherapy51(2), 141-173.


Dattilio, F. M., & Epstein, N. B. (2005). Introduction to the special section: The role of cognitive-behavioral interventions in couple and family therapyJournal of Marital & Family Therapy31(1), 7-13.

Postmodern Models


Campbell, J., Elder, J., Gallagher, D., Simon, J., & Taylor, A. (1999). Crafting the "tap on the shoulder:" A compliment template for solution-focused therapyAmerican Journal Of Family Therapy27(1), 35-47.

Gingerich, W., & Eisengart, S. (2000). Solution-focused brief therapy: a review of the outcome researchFamily Process,39(4), 477-498.

Zimmerman, T. S., Prest, L. A., & Wetzel, B. E. (1997). Solution-focused couples therapy groups: An empirical studyJournal of Family Therapy19(2), 125-144. doi:10.1111/1467-6427.00044


Davidson, T. (2014). STRENGTH: A system of integration of solution-oriented and strength-based principlesJournal Of Mental Health Counseling36(1), 1-17.

Kuehl, B. P. (1995). The solution-oriented genogram: a collaborative approachJournal Of Marital & Family Therapy21239-250.


Sargent, G., & Moss, B. (1986). Ericksonian approaches in family therapy and mediationMediation Quarterly, (14/15), 87-100.


Butler, S., Guterman, J. T., & Rudes, J. (2009). Using puppets with children in narrative therapy to externalize the problem. Journal Of Mental Health Counseling31(3), 225-233.

Wallis, J., Burns, J., & Capdevila, R. (2011). What is narrative therapy and what is it not? The usefulness of Q methodology to explore accounts of White and Epston's (1990) approach to narrative therapyClinical Psychology & Psychotherapy,18(6), 486-497.


Anderson, H. (2012). Collaborative practice: A way of being 'with'Psychotherapy & Politics International,10(2), 130. doi:10.1002/ppi.1261

Additional Resources

Chambless, D. L., & Hollon, S. D. (1998). Defining empirically supported therapiesJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66(1), 7-18. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.66.1.7

Crane, D. R., & Hafen M., Jr. (2002). Meeting the needs of evidence-based practice in family therapy: Developing the scientist-practitioner modelJournal of Family Therapy24(2), 113.

Denton, W. H., Walsh, S. R., & Daniel, S. S. (2002). Evidence-based practice in family therapy: Adolescent depression as an exampleJournal of Marital & Family Therapy28(1), 39-45.

Northey, W. F. (2009). Effectiveness research: A view from the USA. Journal of Family Therapy, 31(1), 75-84. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6427.2008.00453.x

Northey, W. F., & Hodgson, J. (2008). Keys to implementing empirically supported therapies. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 19(1), 50-84. doi:10.1080/08975350801904189

Patterson, J. E., Miller, R. B., Carnes, S., & Wilson, S. (2004). Evidence-based practice for marriage and family therapistsJournal of Marital and Family Therapy30(2), 183-195. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2004.tb01233.x