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Couple and Family Therapy

CFT Faculty 2018 Group Photo

Faculty in the Couple and Family Therapy program conduct research relating to couple and family relationships as well as on the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions. Current research projects include:

Domestic Violence Risk Assessment Project: The Intimate Partner Physical Injury (IPPI) - Risk Assessment Tool (RAT)

Dr. Stith has worked with other researchers at Northern Illinois University and the Department of Defense to develop and test a military-specific risk assessment tool to predict risk of future violence after an alleged incident of intimate partner violence perpetration in the military. By examining leading risk factors for future occurrence of intimate partner violence perpetration, clinicians are able to assess the potential risk for future acts of violence, which can inform appropriate risk management strategies. This tool has been developed and tested within the military, and is currently being used by all branches of military service worldwide. Continued testing on the tool remains a research priority for Dr. Stith.

Research Faculty: Dr. Sandra Stith

For More Information: Please contact Dr. Stith at sstith@k-state.edu.

Examining Risk Markers for Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration and Victimization: A Meta-Analysis

Dr. Stith and Dr. Spencer research intimate partner violence (IPV), specifically focusing on risk markers for IPV perpetration and victimization among men and women. Dr. Stith and Dr. Spencer lead a team of researchers in conducting a large meta-analysis examining variables that would put individuals at risk for perpetrating or being a victim of IPV. The current meta-analysis data set has over 700 articles included, and the team continues to work to update the dataset as new articles are published on the topic of IPV. The large dataset for the meta-analysis has allowed the research team to examine risk markers for IPV perpetration and victimization, for both men and women, and to examine a host of risk markers for IPV in specific populations.

Research Faculty: Dr. Sandra Stith & Dr. Chelsea Spencer

For More Information: Please contact Dr. Spencer at cspenser@k-state.edu.

Parent-Child Relationships As Predictors of Physical and Psychosocial Outcomes for Children

Dr. Glade Topham's research focuses on the influence of the parent-child relationship on child socioemotional and physical health (i.e., establishment of healthy weight balance) outcomes. He studies the efficacy of interventions targeting the parent-child relationship, particularly with vulnerable populations. Some current projects include:

  • Relation between parenting style and parent response to child emotion and child healthy weight balance.
  • The influence of parenting practices on youth independent eating behaviors.
  • The efficacy of early intervention targeting the parent-child relationship in promoting child emotional and behavioral regulation and long-term healthy weight balance.

Research Faculty: Dr. Glade Topham

For More Information: Please contact Dr. Topham at gtopham@k-state.edu.


RelevateRelevate is a university-community transdisciplinary team passionate about reducing disparities in health and well-being across the lifespan through increasing public access to relationship science and creating a culture that values and invests in strong interpersonal connection. Our goal is to provide customized and accessible research-based information about diverse relationships that enables people to gain knowledge, skills, and access to additional resources they can use to reach their relationship goals and improve their overall well-being. Relevate does this through adaptive and experiential approaches to intervention through in-person events and MyRelevate.com, a mobile platform for diverse relationship scholars and practitioners to share their expertise directly with the public.

Research Faculty: Dr. Amber Vennum and Dr. Elaine Johannes

For More Information: Please contact Dr. Vennum at avennum@k-state.edu.

Romantic Relationships and Family Processes

Dr. Jared Durtschi studies couple and family relationships. His primary interests are in studying clinically modifiable factors that contribute to long-term satisfying couple relationships, preventing relationship dissolution, and underlying processes and contexts linked with better relationships. He primarily uses advanced quantitative methods with nationally representative and longitudinal dyadic data in his research. Dr. Durtschi enjoys mentoring students in research, and does the majority of his research with students at K-State.

Research Faculty: Dr. Jared Durtschi

For More Information: Please contact Dr. Durtschi at jadmft@k-state.edu.

Self-Development in Relationships

What keeps us from being more authentic, open, and curious in our intimate relationships? Why do we "hide" from partners, not revealing what we really think or feel? Why do we avoid and withdraw from our partners or constantly need and seek their validation to feel ok about ourselves? Why do we give up our ideas and fold so easily? Why do we get so defensive and hold tight to our ideas, becoming impervious to influence? Why do we keep having the same fights over and over again and seem to never make progress on these issues or come to a resolution? Why do we stop talking about things that matter? Why do we settle for boring sex? Why do we have sex (consensually) when we're not in the mood?
These, and many other questions, are the focus of our work. We conduct basic research (cross-sectional and longitudinal) to enhance our understanding of relationship processes with the goal of strengthening relationship education and clinical intervention programs and approaches. We're also interested in developing and testing self-development based approaches to relationship education and clinical intervention—believing that relationship change begins with individual development in relationship.
Finally, we're working to clarify the degree of overlap between constructs used in different disciplines (autonomy, differentiation, self-determination, dependency, anxious attachment, fusion, emotional cut-off, engulfment anxiety, avoidant attachment) in order increase construct precision and to better compare results of studies across disciplines.
We believe that your "self" profoundly shapes your relationships. How you see yourself, how you think your partner and others see you, and the degree to which your view of your "self" is contingent on how you think others view you has a tremendous impact on your behavior and your personal and relational well-being. Our lab leans on Self-Determination (Ryan & Deci, 2017) and Differentiation (Kerr & Bowen, 1988; Schnarch, 1999; 2009) theory to understand "self" in relationship.

Research Faculty: Dr. Jared Anderson

For More Information: Please contact Dr. Anderson at jra@k-state.edu or call 785-532-4198.

Additional Resources

Learn more about our graduate programs in Couple and Family Therapy.

Explore the K-State Family Center.