Steven M Harris

Steven M Harris
University of Minnesota Twin Cities | UMN · Department of Family Social Science

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73
Publications
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802
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Publications

Publications (73)
Article
This study examined the prevalence of relationship undermining statements by psychotherapists as reported by clients in individual therapy who presented with relationship problems, and whether these statements were associated with worse outcomes for client relationships. Participants (n = 101) reported on recollections of whether their therapist ha...
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Objective The aim of this study is to use in-depth, qualitative interviews and longitudinal analysis to explore fluctuations in divorce ideation over time with 30 participants who had thoughts about divorce in the previous 6 months. Background Scholarship on marital ambivalence and divorce ideation suggests the importance of better understanding t...
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Sexual communication is critical to establishing sexual encounters. Sexual script theory has been used to explore how individuals communicate sexual consent and perceive sexual consent cues. Gender differences appear to dictate how consent cues are expressed and interpreted. Using a sample of 309 U.S. heterosexual participants (Mage = 34.6 years, r...
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A widely cited but poorly supported idea in the couples therapy field is that the average couple waits six years before starting therapy for serious relationship problems. This figure is often accompanied by the notion that many couples come "too late" and have poor prospects for recovery. This is the first large-sample study on the delay between t...
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Guided by the Stages of Change (SOC) model, we explored relationship-repair behaviors among those thinking about divorce, employing a recent national longitudinal survey of married individuals (N = 745). Person-centered analyses explored whether there were distinct typologies of relationship-repair behaviors. We found four distinct classes: Intense...
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Researchers have long treated marital separation as a linear transition that inevitably leads to divorce. Popular sources suggest that some couples separate without clarity about how the separation will end, often to assess whether to divorce or stay married. However, to date, we could not locate any empirical research on this kind of ambiguous sep...
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Researchers frequently search for variables that are linked with healthy couple relationships. Previous studies have provided evidence that variables such as relationship satisfaction, an active, satisfying sex life, and stress are associated with one another, though the precise nature of these relationships remains unclear. The current study used...
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Little is known about divorce decision making, the process of deciding whether to divorce when a marriage is distressed. The focus of this qualitative study was to explore the roles of love and happiness—two Western ideals that govern contemporary marital processes—in divorce decision making. Married participants (N = 30) with recent thoughts about...
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Introduction: This study utilizes triadic data to examine the association between mother-father-adolescent concordance (agreement) and discordance (disagreement) on home environment factors (i.e., parental encouragement of dieting, family functioning) and adolescent unhealthy weight control behaviors and binge eating. Method: A subsample of adol...
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Research on relationship education (RE) programs generally shows their effectiveness, but it is important to understand what the mechanisms of change are, how they occur within programs, and what participants experience. The purpose of this study was to explore couples' perceptions of the key components of their experience as participants of a Prep...
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This study reports on a nationally representative sample of married individuals ages 25–50 (N = 3,000) surveyed twice (1 year apart) to investigate the phenomenon of divorce ideation, or what people are thinking when they are thinking about divorce. Twenty-eight percent of respondents had thought their marriage was in serious trouble in the past bu...
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Research on the role that religion and spirituality play in divorce is fairly limited and what has been published deals mostly with postdivorce adjustment. Very little research examines the role religion and spirituality play in the actual decision to divorce or stay married. We report the results of a content analysis of 30 qualitative interviews...
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The prevalence of patients with opioid misuse in medical settings continues to rise, and it is unknown how much exposure medical family therapists (MedFTs) have in treating this issue. This study explored the attitudes of MedFTs (n D 58) when working with patients struggling with opioid use disorder in clinical practice. Results revealed that 43% o...
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There is a well-established literature dedicated to why couples divorce, transitions associated with divorce, and the impact of divorce on families. However, little is known about the divorce decision-making process. We conducted in-depth interviews with individuals who have recently considered divorce (n = 30) and asked specifically about the role...
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The authors present the results of a 15-year review of research on the effects of pornography on couple relationships, including intimacy. This review includes 26 empirically-based studies that were conducted between 2000 and 2016. This research topic has mostly been approached from an exploratory and descriptive perspective. Criticisms of the lite...
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Couple and relationship education (CRE) has effectively improved communication and relationship satisfaction, but some question its effectiveness for couples who are at risk. Mixed findings may derive from focusing on aggregated sample results. This study explored the benefit of using a person-oriented analysis for evaluating CRE program effectiven...
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Medical family therapy (MedFT) has gained momentum as a framework in healthcare for individuals and families. However, little is known about what background training and clinical experiences Medical Family Therapists (MedFTs) have in everyday practice. This study investigated the clinical training of MedFTs and their practices in a variety of care...
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Although principles of nonviolence have been applied in sociopolitical arenas, they can also be helpful in understanding intimate partner relationships. This is because couples who handle conflict in a constructive way are often using techniques and ideas congruent with nonviolent philosophies. Relationships that handle conflict by becoming aggress...
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This article introduces a typology of attitudes toward proceeding with a divorce among parents of minor children. The backdrop is recent research showing that some parents are ambivalent about the divorce and are open to reconciliation services. Surveying a sample of 624 parents who had filed for divorce, the study found that about two thirds of pa...
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The federal government has fiscally supported relationship education (RE) for lower-income citizens. However, concerns exist that this particular population may be at increased risk for intimate partner violence (IPV), and some are concerned that government endorsement of RE could encourage women to stay in unsafe and violent relationships. Researc...
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Current literature yields mixed results about the effectiveness of relationship education (RE) with low-income participants and those who experience a high level of individual or relational distress. Scholars have called for research that examines whether initial levels of distress act as a moderator of RE outcomes. To test whether initial levels o...
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This study examined confiding patterns in a national sample of 1000 U.S. adults aged 25-70 to inform the development of an educational program for confidants, called Marital First Responders. Results showed that 73% of U.S. adults have been a confidant to someone with a problem in a marriage or long-term committed relationship. The most common conf...
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This article describes discernment counseling, an approach to working with couples where one partner is leaning toward divorce and the other wants to preserve the relationship and work on it in couples therapy. These "mixed-agenda" couples are common in clinical practice but have been neglected in the literature. The goal of discernment counseling...
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This study explores women's experience of marital therapy while they navigated decision making around divorce. A qualitative method was used to gain a deeper understanding of the participants' therapy and relationship decision-making experiences. How are women's decisions whether or not to exit their marriage affected by therapy? The researchers in...
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Humility is a character trait and virtue that has received scant attention in psychotherapy literature. A panel of experts was assembled to confer on their beliefs about humility for this Delphi study. They responded to a proposed definition of humility and provided a variety of statements regarding the role of humility in client change and relatio...
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There exists a need to better understand the applicability of Marriage and Relationship Education (MRE) initiatives with diverse populations. This study presents findings from focus groups with Latino men and women (N = 16) who participated in MRE classes. A critical theory approach guided the researchers who used grounded theory methodology to ana...
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This article reports the findings of a Delphi study designed to examine the experiences of MFTs who secure nonclinical administrative or managerial positions after graduating from a COAMFTE accredited doctoral program. Delphi panelists, each selected for their experience in this realm, listed the unique challenges they faced and how they overcame t...
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Although many adults and children are resilient after divorce, it is common for marital breakups to precipitate the need for government assistance for families who had been self-sufficient. This study focuses on the economic costs of divorce associated with means-tested welfare programs in Texas, which fall into five central areas: medical assistan...
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Dismissing a student from an MFT training program can be challenging from an ethical and professional perspective. A thorough review of the literature regarding dismissal procedures in MFT training programs was conducted in order to increase discussion around circumstances under which dismissal is warranted and necessary for the protection of the p...
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The current study is a pilot evaluation of a six-week psychoeducational-support group based in an ambiguous loss framework for family members of people who hoard. Findings suggest that participants who completed the six-week intervention group (N = 8) indicated positive results at the two-month follow up interview, reporting an increased understand...
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Marriage and relationship education (MRE) programs have become more common and are seen as helpful in strengthening intimate relationships, including those involving children. Although these programs have generally been found to be efficacious, more research is needed to understand the fit of programs aimed at low-income populations. This study exp...
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Death is inevitable and yet in US culture the discussion of death is somewhat taboo. Marriage and Family therapists are trained in the implications of grief and loss for clients who lose loved ones and yet examination of the impact of therapist mortality on clients is lacking in the clinical literature. This article examines ways that private pract...
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Marital and relationship education (MRE) has demonstrated its efficacy as a viable intervention helpful to couples and individuals who receive it. However, an overrepresentation of Caucasian populations existed in MRE research resulting in a need to understand how MRE is received by those in underserved populations. The current study reports the fi...
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Alzheimer's disease and related disorders (ADRD) pose a potential threat to the interpersonal and intimate relationships in couples. The objective of this study was to understand the lived experiences of individuals with a spouse suffering from ADRD and how this diagnosis affects intimacy within these marital relationships. This qualitative study u...
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The researchers surveyed 295 members of the Association for Play Therapy on their attitudes related to working with families when treating children. The results indicated the majority of play therapists held attitudes conducive to involving families in their approaches with children. However, mixed findings were found in specific areas related to t...
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This article describes a study involving informed consent documents (ICDs) of family therapists in private practice. Therapists' documents were obtained via email solicitation and analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Seven conceptual categories were developed and are summarized. Findings suggest that there were both substantial consistency...
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Clinical members of AAMFT were solicited by means of a randomized multi-staged clustering technique to identify their attitudes and beliefs regarding psychotropic drugs. All participants were blind to the overall purpose of the study (n = 322) and were directed to read a clinical vignette and then identify what course of action they would take with...
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In Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT), case notes can play an important role in providing quality care and in maintaining the integrity of the therapeutic relationship. Case notes are invaluable for clinicians on many different levels: clinically, ethically, and legally. In this article, we will highlight the many uses of case notes within the field...
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Considering the magnitude of the potential repercussions concerning sexual attraction between mental health professionals and their clients, relatively little research exists in the field of marriage and family therapy (MFT). Although the topic of sexual attraction and various ethical dilemmas accompanying the issue have raised awareness of the inc...
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This article describes a modified study originally conducted by Hansen, Harway, and Cervantes (1991) that sought to understand how clinicians recognized and responded to potential indicators of intimate partner violence. Eighty-four mental health practitioners, blind to the purpose of the study, read a clinical vignette and then responded to four o...
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Every Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) must carefully plan how to initiate, convene, and terminate therapy. Determining how to ethically terminate therapy in a variety of therapeutic contexts can be challenging. Though termination is a common aspect of all therapeutic relationships, a lack of empirically based information on how to terminate the...
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Limited empirical information exists on whether or not marriage and family therapists are having sexuality-related discussions with their clients. When helping professionals ignore client sexuality, the potential for unintended negative outcomes increases. The researchers surveyed 175 clinical members of the American Association for Marriage and Fa...
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Two hundred four consecutive psychotherapy initiators who called for an initial appointment at a university-based family therapy clinic during a one-year period were examined to see what factors influenced nonattendance. Researchers considered factors such as demographics, substance use, medical and psychiatric involvement, clinic practice, and con...
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In this study, we present the findings of an investigation of the effectiveness of 3 models of premarital education. The study compares the outcomes between a workbook-only self-directed program, a therapist-directed (unstructured) program, and an assessment-based (RELATE) relationship enhancement program. Results revealed significant differences i...
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The purpose of this study was to modify a study by Hansen, Harway, and Cervantes (1991)12. Hansen , M. , Harway , M. and Cervantes , N. 1991. Therapists' perceptions of severity in cases of family violence. Violence & Victims, 6: 225–235. [CSA] [PubMed], [CSA]View all references that investigated whether clinicians recognized and responded to in...
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No research to date addresses premarital assessment questionnaire (PAQ) use within group settings. The current study evaluated the benefits and drawbacks of group use of one PAQ (the RELATE Inventory). Results were obtained via semi-structured interviews of group leaders and indicate overall leader agreement on the perceived desirability, benefits,...
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This article provides an overview of the findings from a two-year project, funded (Grant ##02G02335) by the Texas Office of the Attorney General. The overall aim for the project was to determine the relative effectiveness of three different forms of premarital education programs with an ultimate goal to develop a model premarital education program...
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This article reviews the current issues and implications underlying the processes involving the Sunset Commission review of the marriage and family therapy licensure act within the state of Texas.
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Students at a southwestern university were surveyed to test the interrelations of three constructs: sexual-moral attitudes, love styles, and attraction criteria. Following the procedures of the National Health and Social Life Survey, from which the sexual-moral attitude items were obtained, we conducted a cluster analysis to create attitudinal grou...
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Employee Assistance Program (EAP) literature calls for an increase in the amount of research dedicated to demonstrating program effectiveness. Specifically, EAPs need to demonstrate their ability to improve client health, increase productivity, and reduce health care costs. Much of the existing EAP outcome research is built upon customer satisfacti...
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This article reports the findings of a study designed to investigate the following question: How do some childhood witnesses of domestic violence make sense of their nonviolence in adult intimate relationships? The results of in-depth semistructured interviews with adults who grew up witnessing violence but who are not violent in their intimate rel...
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Data were collected from two different EAPs, one in upstate New York and the other in west Texas. The psychometric properties of these data are measured and described. The results from a factor analysis of each measure are reported, and considerations for the inclusion of items into a new client satisfaction instrument are described. The refined me...
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This report is a follow-up to the article entitled, “Two outcome measures of EAP satisfaction: A factor analysis” (Shumway, Dersch, Harris, & Arredondo, 2000), which appeared in Employee Assistance Quarterly, Volume 16, Number 4. The previous article described the process of creating a new measure of EAP satisfaction. The current article describes...
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The paucity of literature addressing mental health issues concerning geriatric populations represents the perpetuation of ageist practices and beliefs in the field of marriage and family therapy. The purpose of this study was to assess whether client age and clinical training relate to the evaluation of couples who present for conjoint therapy. Wri...
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Brandwein, R. A. (ed.) (1999). Battered Women, Children, and Welfare Reform: The Ties That Bind.Books Available for Review
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While self-disclosure plays a prominent role in the development and maintenance of the therapeutic relationship, most marriage and family therapy clinical research fails to include measures of self-disclosure. A factor analysis of Chelune's (1976) Self Disclosure Situations Survey (SDSS) reduces the number of items in this measure from 20 to six. R...
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Existing research indicates that clients perceive facially attractive therapists as more competent, trustworthy, genuine, and effective than less attractive therapists. No studies exist to help explain how the therapist's attractiveness influences a client's self-disclosure. Participants (n = 241) were randomly assigned to one of eight experimental...
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Although many authors have written about a spiritual dimension that permeates everyone’s life, family therapists and training programs continue to ignore issues of spirituality. Much like the gender and cultural biases that exist within our theories of change, spiritual biases may exist in our family therapy theories. These spiritual biases, howeve...
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Bowen family systems theory suggests that individuals who report high levels of individual pathology will also report having been raised in families characterized by high conflict and low adaptability. Combining individual and family assessment measures, or using one type of measure to understand the results of the other may be possible through the...
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The psychotherapy theory presented here has been influenced by Bowen Family Systems Theory and Symbolic Experiential Theory. It is suggested that life consists of struggles between many dichotomous spectra. Individuals in families engage in these struggles as well as in the struggle between autonomy and inclusion. It is suggested that the theory pr...
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The AAMFT Commission on Accreditation (COA) requires that a course in ethics/professionalism be taught to therapists in training. Results of a study that analyzed syllabi from the ethics courses of accredited MFT training programs across the United States are reported. Accredited programs are making an effort to teach about ethical dilemmas, legali...

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Projects (2)
Project
Couples therapy is an effective way to address relationship distress, yet it is not a resource that couples use equally. Health disparities include relational health, such as relationship/marital satisfaction. To address this gap, we seek to understand more about what resources African American couples seek, their perception of couples therapy, and help-seeking from religious officials. To meet this goal we will do both a quantitative study that uses a longitudinal APIM, and a qualitative study using grounded theory.
Project
To better understand the dynamics, nuances, contexts, themes, and theories involved in the divorce decision-making process.