Reframing, family defensiveness/supportiveness and treatment dropout in brief strategic/structural family therapy

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Robert C. McMahon - Committee Chair


This study compared levels of defensiveness and supportiveness immediately following therapist reframe interventions in the first session of Brief Structural/Strategic Family Therapy between those who eventually dropped out and those who eventually completed treatment. Differences in proportions of therapist reframe interventions immediately following family defensiveness were also examined to determine if the contingent use of reframe interventions given defensiveness differentiated Completers from Dropouts. Study participants consisted of a group of predominantly Hispanic families that included an adolescent substance abuser. The purpose of this study was to build on previous findings concerning the relationship between therapist reframing and within family defensiveness and supportiveness by linking these core processes to treatment dropout. Dropouts received less than eight sessions and were identified by therapists as premature termination cases, while Completers received 8 or more sessions and were identified by therapists as successful terminations. A series of univariate analyses of variance and nonparametric analyses (Mann-Whitney U test) revealed results inconsistent with study hypotheses. Families that completed therapy did not demonstrate lower levels of defensiveness or higher levels of supportiveness in response to therapist reframing than families that dropped out of therapy. In addition, therapists involved with families that completed therapy did not demonstrate higher proportions of reframe interventions immediately following defensive family member behaviors than those therapists involved with families that dropped out of therapy. The implications and limitations of the study are discussed as are future directions for research.


Psychology, Clinical

Link to Full Text


Link to Full Text