Emotion and Family Therapy: Exploring Female and Male Clinicians' Attitudes about the Use of Emotion in Therapy


emotion, therapy, gender, clinical therapy, MFT, marriage and family therapy


Emotion, as a main component in family therapy, enjoys empirical support and increasing popularity, yet little is known about the clinicians who are using theoretical models inclusive of emotion. In addition, even fewer studies have looked at the role of emotion in therapy, particularly in regard to gender differences among clinicians. In order to better understand the use of emotion in therapy, 221 marriage and family therapists (MFTs) completed self-report questionnaires about emotion as a main component in practicing family therapy (Emotion in Family Therapy Questionnaire, see Appendix) and demographic data. Results indicate that both female and male participants had favorable attitudes about emotion. No significant differences existed between men and women in this sample. None of the test variables were found to significantly relate to emotion for men. For women, confidence and prevalence using emotion were significantly related to age, relationship status, work setting, and having children. Implications for training and research are discussed.

Original Publication Citation

Pace, M., & Sandberg, J. (2012). Emotion and family therapy: Exploring female and male clinicians’ attitudes about the use of emotion in therapy. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 31(1), 1-21.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Systemic Therapies




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor