Research Methods in Family Therapy

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

The Delphi Method

LINDA STONE FISH
DEAN M. BUSBY


BACKGROUND

Dear Reader,

We would like to ask your help in a research study of considerable significance for
family therapy researchers and clinicians. The present study is designed to compare and
contrast the various research methodologies in the field by examining the opinions of
prominent family therapists. The completion of the three questionnaires that will make up
this study will require a total of no more than 1½ hours of your time. In appreciation of
your participation, a complete summary of the findings and a list of the other panelists will
be sent to you.

This study will employ the Delphi technique, a widely used method of gathering
group consensus from a panel of knowledgeable persons. The Delphi technique assures an-
onymity of responses, reduces group pressure for conformity, and takes less time for panel-
ists than traditional methods of pooling opinion. As an expert in the field of family ther-
apy, your participation in the present research will be greatly appreciated.

With your help, this research will help clarify various research methodologies and
their role in the family therapy field. We look forward to working with you in the weeks to
come.

Respectfully,

Linda Stone Fish, PhD Dean M. Busby, PhD

Sound interesting? This is the way Delphi research often begins. Researchers are curious about a particular topic in the field. They may perceive the seeds of an idea germinating in the soil of family therapy (e.g., feminist-informed family therapy in the 1980s), or they may perceive discrepancies in ideas that are fueling theory and practice (e.g., how structural and strategic therapies are similar vs. different). Or they may have an opinion about a particular topic relevant to the field and want to know how expert colleagues around the country think about the same things (e.g., the strengths and weaknesses of families at the present time). Regardless of the idea, the researchers want to pool experts on the subject. The researchers want to structure communication

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