Public Description of Family Psychology

Family Psychology is a broad and general specialty in professional psychology founded on principles of systems theory with the interpersonal system of the family the focus of assessment, intervention and research.

What Specialized Knowledge Is Key to the Specialty?

Key to the specialty is a thorough understanding of general systems theory and the application of systemic concepts to human behavior. Family psychologists are also knowledgeable in developmental psychology, personality theory and psychopathology, group and organizational dynamics, ecological psychology, communication theory, models of family functioning, methods and models of couple and family therapy, family assessment, family legal and ethical issues, and methods of family research.

What Problems Does This Specialty Specifically Address?

Family psychologists treat the comprehensive issues of psychological health and pathology among individuals, couples and families with unique consideration to the interrelatedness of health and social context. Affective, cognitive, behavioral and dynamic factors are considered within the broader socio-cultural-historical and developmental contexts in which these manifest. Examples of problems addressed are family relationship issues, parenting challenges, caregiver burden, work-family stress, behavioral problems of children or adolescents, communication difficulties, coordination of individual treatment across social systems.

What Populations Does This Specialty Specifically Serve?

Family Psychologists work with individuals, couples, families and broader social systems. Regardless of the client, the Family Psychologist conceptualizes treatment from an interpersonal, systems perspective.

What Are the Essential Skills and Procedures Associated with the Specialty?

Family psychologists may work in a variety of contexts and engage in a variety of procedures including, but not limited to, the following: family assessment; family and couples therapy; consultation with external authorities; education and training; advocacy for policies that affect families; conducting research on couples and families.