Discussion | SOCW 6301 – Social Work Practice Research I | Walden University


Integration of the Research Process 





▪ Poitier, V. L., Niliwaambieni, M., & Rowe, C. L. (1997). A rite of passage approach designed to preserve the families of substance-abusing African American women. Child Welfare, 76(1), 173–195. 


Discussion just one page 


Integrating the Research Process 

Post by Day 3 an explanation of your assigned step of the research process and how you would complete that step (see Discussion details in the course). 

       discussion: Integrating the  Process

About 15 years ago, before evidence-based practice became a standard to which to aspire, a professor found an article describing a treatment program for substance-abusing African-American women that incorporated their children and aimed to preserve their families. The program was built around principles of African-centered theory. The professor thought the program appeared well designed and heartily urged students to study the article and possibly find ways to imitate the program ideas, if not the program itself. A few years later, the professor, having continued her education, especially in the area of research, searched for a follow-up on the program, perhaps reporting outcomes and evidence of effectiveness. No research evidence on the program appears in the scholarly journals. In fact, no evidence that the program continues to exist at this time has been found. The fact that what appeared to be a promising practice approach did not endure or have the opportunity to benefit from evaluation is unfortunate.

Note: This week you will work as a class to create a plan for evaluating the rite of passage program described in the assigned article. Each member of the class will be assigned one step of the research process:
Research problems and questions
Finding and using existing knowledge just pick one
Focused research questions and research hypothesis
Research methods
Sampling issues and options
Data acquisition
Data collection instruments
Analyzing data
Disseminating research findings

To prepare for this Discussion, read the Poitier et al. study and then revisit what you have learned about your assigned step of the research process. Consider what would be the most important information to share with your colleagues about that step. Together the class will create a research plan for evaluating the rite of passage program described in the assigned article.


Many couples may consider couple therapy only if the relationship seems not to be doing. Thankfully, it is the same tool that will prevent it from tumbling downhill. As such, Couple Therapy is a comfortable and safe forum where warring parties come together and discuss issues without escalating and causing more damage to the already ailing relationship. The primary person offering this diplomatic backchannel is a couples therapists, who often have to work a tightrope not to take sides by trying hard to understand both sides and provide an unbiased solution to the problem at hand. While dilemmas abound, and fear of escalation do not quickly fade away, couple therapist has to offer a practical solution and help to restore trust, love and rebuild the positive emotion.

Problem Statement

For as long as civil marriages and romantic relationships exist, couple therapists will continue to provide their coupling counseling services. Their role in the society is still essential to this day in fixing failing relationships, and otherwise negotiating a graceful ending. However, there are crucial elements which keep the relationship strong long before trouble arrives. Such aspects as trust, love and positive emotion are often ignored, but couple counseling can help restore these elements.

Research Questions

  1. Is there a significant lack of growth-fostering elements (trust, positive emotion, etc.) in a typical relationship?
  2. What is the correlation between a lack of zest in a relationship and its breakdown?
  3. Can couples counseling reignite positive growth-fostering elements during marital discord?

Literature Review

Over the past years, there has been a high interest in the area of Couple Counseling. While intimate relationships are continually changing, there have to be theories and research techniques, which will help psychologists, understand the field better. But as the demand for the therapy grows, and intimate relationships changes, the lack of close connection and affection in relationships is becoming a common problem concerning the therapy (Horowitz, 1979, as cited in Johnson, 1991). Indeed, a positive intimate relationship is proving a vital tool in facing common problems currently plaguing the world (Johnson, 1991). Also, marital therapy can be applicable in other areas of personal challenges such as alcoholism and depression, where the same old problems have been treated from a particular point of view (Jacobson et al., as cited in Johnson, 1991).

Theory in Marital Therapy

Marital therapy theories have attracted attention in the fields of pathology and health which include principles such as systematic, behavioral and analytic approaches to change and human behavior (Steinglass, 1987). Such principles explain what concerns an individual rather than what is happening between two people (Johnson, 1991). Understanding personal behavior provides a necessary foundation for developing marital therapy intervention packages. As Johnson (1991) explains, it is necessary to focus on the individual, automatic reinforcing patterns, and the implications on couples. Also, the trends about pathology must be addressed. The author further elaborates the theoretical functions in areas such as skill deficit and reinforcement.

Attachment theory explains intimate connection as an affectionate attachment and a collection of closeness seeking habits emanating from an inner desire for interpersonal contact and a longing for personal security (Johnson, 1991). But in the face of separation or loss, such a connection is bound to loosen or cut off completely. Different attachments, however according to Johnson (1991), do exist: anxious, avoidant and secure. They are associated with a tendency to create specific interactional patterns and thus are affected by particular interventions (Johnson, 1991). A

When a relationship is in continuous distress mode arising from security, isolation, and deprivation, there is an urgent need for responsibility and responsiveness from the other partner (Jonson, 1991). Therefore, emotions are essential in an intimate relationship, and as such the role of emotions in civil unions and marital therapy has been debated quite often for some time now (Broderick & O’Leary, 1986). Focusing on other variables such as love, attachment, trust, and intimacy needs to be incorporated into research to examine the role of emotion in an intimate relationship further, and how it forms a theoretical basis in the field of marital therapy interventions.

Couple Counseling Techniques

Couple psychotherapy has expanded to incorporate positive psychology interventions (PPIs). Couple therapists, however, find it difficult to sift through a tone of literature related PPIs. Also, gleaning the best methodological combination is another challenging task for counseling therapists. Kauffman (2009) presented a three-part organizational framework, which is to enable a counseling therapist to have the best possible interventions plans and help the quarreling partners reach a compromise and resolve their issues.

Step 1: Balancing the Focus

When Baumeister et al., (2001) once said, “Bad is stronger than good.” This may hold right owing to the negative bias, where over millennia, humans have tended to edge away from what is inherently good, and find we are drifting towards what is harmful. As a result, we often find ourselves focusing a lot of research work on dysfunctional relationships, and forgetting what relatively healthy relationships (Kaufman, 2009) are.  It is, therefore essential for therapists to have a better focus on healthy relationships rather than a sole focus on pathology (Kaufman, 2009).

Essential qualities of a healthy relationship such as self-worth and connection are some of the few areas a therapist would focusing on when helping a couple achieve a functional relationship. On the partners’ side, a balanced focus is critical as well. More often, an endless cycle of negativity keeps popping up, and it becomes a hard nut to crack as time goes by. At such a situation, negativity bias is actively at play, where individuals focus most of their time thinking about the negative experience, giving little attention to what makes them happy (Kaufman, 2009). A dark cloud looms over their heads, heavy with resentment and thinking of the past mistakes. Therefore, counseling therapist needs to have a clear focus on elements of the healthy relationship, which in turn could be applied couples who have trouble seeing the good in one another.

Step 2: Enhancing Positive Emotions

Positive emotion is an important element in nurturing a healthy relationship and about couples’ therapy. Also, it enhances the big picture mentality, which is essential in when building trust and openness (Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005, as cited in Kaufman & Silberman, 2009). Noteworthy, helping couples achieve positive emotions is an essential step in the therapeutic process. However, the approach may work differently for different kind people (Lyubomirsky, 2008). It, therefore, implies that selection of appropriate PPI needs a closer look on partners’ lifestyles and strengths (Kaufman & Siberman, 2009).

Another essential way of encouraging positive emotion is through savoring life pleasures, both that are latent and explicit (Bryant & Veroff, 2007, as cited in Kaufman & Silberman, 2009). Using this technique, the therapist can encourage couples to set aside a specific amount of time to focus on these pleasurable moments and reflect on them.

Step 3: Building on Strengths

Ability to see the strength in a partner has impact relationship longevity (Kaufman & Siberman, 2009). Research also indicates that, partners who see qualities of strength, which anyone also barely see, can weather the storm associated with marriage, and are less likely to divorce in the long-run (Murray, 2005; Murray, Holmes, Dolderman, & Griffin, 2000, as cited in Kaufman & Silberman, 2009). Also, therapists can encourage their clients to use personal qualities such as social intelligence to find ways of making another partner smile (Kaufman & Siberman, 2009). In the process, each partner will discover the other loving and charismatic.

The gap between Research and Practice in Marital and Family Therapy (MFT)

The gap between clinical practice and psychotherapy has widened over time, and specifically in MFT (Sprenkle, 2003, as cited in Cvetek, 2005). Also, studies have indicated that research does not influence the many of marital and family therapists and their practices (Pinsof & Wynne, 2000, as cited in Cvetek, 2005). There has been a persistent plea to bridge this gap but to no avail (Sprenkle, 2003, as cited in Cvetek, 2005).

Seemingly, such situations lead to some of the questions highlighting the loopholes in the research that would make therapists doubt the system (Pinsof & Wynne, 2000, as cited in Cvetek, 2005). From a general perspective, studies undertaken do not take into account the current trends in therapy and are often written is complicated way making it irrelevant and ineffective.


Boderick, J. E., & O’Leary, K. D. (1986). Contributions of effect, attitudes, and behavior to

marital satisfaction. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54: 514-517

Cvetek, R. (2005). Trends and Problems in Marital and Family Research: Possible use of Action

Research. Horizons of Psychology, 14(4) 43-46. Retrieved from:http://psiholoska-obzorja.si/arhiv_clanki/2005_4/cvetek.pdf

Johnson, S M. (1991). Marital therapy: issues and challenges. Journal of Psychiatry and

Neuroscience 16(3): 176-181. Retrieved from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1188327/

Kauffman, C., & Siberman, Jordan (2009). Finding and Fostering the Positive in Relationships:

Positive Interventions in Couples Therapy. Journal Of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 65(5), 520-531. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20594

Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). The how of happiness. A scientific approach to getting the life you

want. New York: Penguin Press.

Steinglass, P. (1987). As systems view of family interaction and psychopathology. In:Family

Interaction and Psychopathology. Jacob T9(ed). New York: Platinum Press.

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