Research Methods in Family Therapy

By Douglas H. Sprenkle; Fred P. Piercy | Go to book overview

Multilevel Growth Modeling
in the Context of Family Research

MARGARET K. KEILEY
NINA C. MARTIN
TING LIU
MEGAN DOLBIN-MACNAB


BACKGROUND

Change or growth is a fundamental premise of many, if not most, therapeutic modalities. Clients often enter therapy seeking resolution to situations they consider problematic or undesirable—hoping for decreases in levels of stress, for example, or increases in personal power, strength, or esteem. Change can be especially complicated in the context of the family, as multiple individuals are involved in simultaneous change processes, sometimes in concert with one another and sometimes in conflict. In addition, change can occur on multiple levels, affecting individuals within a family or influencing the family as a whole. Because family therapists are often the catalysts of such change, they are interested not only in clients' and family members' patterns of growth or change during the course of therapy, but also in whether or not change is sustained over the long term or even continues after therapy has ended. Those who engage in research about the family are particularly attuned to these changes; they seek not only to measure what clients' and family members' course of development looks like over time, but also to assess what predicts that development. For example, do individuals and family members get better over time, do they get worse, or do they stay the same? Why do some clients and family members change or grow differently from others, and what makes some get better whereas others get worse? Indeed, these two major questions—what change looks like over time, and what predicts that change—are fundamental to understanding whether or not many therapeutic modalities (and, indeed, many therapists) are successful. They are also the two fundamental questions that underlie the statistical methodology of multilevel growth modeling.

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