Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Victoria Foster


Families come to therapy wanting to know how to raise good citizens and address issues of justice and fairness in the context of their interpersonal relationships. Research literature suggests that the family may be the best context for moral learning. The implications of deliberately promoted developmental growth within the context of a family therapy intervention are explored. Specifically, the relationships between moral reasoning, ego development and relational functioning in family therapy are examined within a systems-based therapeutic approach.;Outcome research in family therapy suggests that there is at least a moderate positive effect of family therapy. This study examines the effects of a deliberate psychological education (DPE) intervention in the context of systemic family therapy. This study proposed that those at higher levels of moral reasoning and ego development would exhibit a greater ability to adapt to normative family life cycle transitions and exhibit greater relational functioning as more cognitively complex parents may be better equipped to facilitate family organization, communication and emotional responsiveness.;Results of this study indicated developmental shifts in both the treatment and comparison groups over time, with significant positive gains indicated for the treatment group in the domains of ego development and moral reasoning. Family functioning improved slightly for the treatment group over time, but effects were not significant. Implications of this study and suggestions for future research are suggested.



© The Author