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Fam Process. 2002 Summer;41(2):199-260.

The history of couple therapy: a millennial review.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin Medical School, 6001 Research Park Boulevard, Madison, Wisconsin 53719, USA.


In this article, we review the major conceptual and clinical influences and trends in the history of couple therapy to date, and also chronicle the history of research on couple therapy. The evolving patterns in theory and practice are reviewed as having progressed through four distinctive phases: Phase I--Atheoretical Marriage Counseling Formation (1930-1963); Phase II--Psychoanalytic Experimentation (1931-1966); Phase III--Family Therapy Incorporation (1963-1985); and Phase IV--Refinement, Extension, Diversification, and Integration (1986-present). The history of research in the field is described as having passed through three phases: Phase I--A Technique in Search of Some Data (1930-1974), Phase II--Irrational(?) Exuberance (1975-1992), and Phase III--Caution and Extension (1993-present). The article concludes with the identification of Four Great Historical Ironies in the History of Couple Therapy.

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