Queering the discussion: A Delphi study of the effects of GLBT identity and queer theory on marriage and family therapy

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marriage and Family Therapy


Linda Stone Fish


Identity, Queer, Marriage and family therapy, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual

Subject Categories

Gender and Sexuality | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


As a field, marriage and family therapy has attempted to embrace critiques of its modernist roots, sustaining challenges from feminism, multiculturalism, and postmodernism and attempting to incorporate them to some degree. However, the changes prompted by these critiques have largely resulted in, at best, an awkward co-existence with the field's modernist, hierarchical roots and their inherent reliance on dominant norms as the center from which theory and practice derive. This study was designed to shed light on possible developments for the field were it to adopt a less hetero-centric perspective that marginalizes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people. The study also investigates potential growth through the use of a queer theory lens not previously applied to marriage and family therapy.

A Delphi methodology was used to get consensus from a panel of self-identified marriage and family or systemic therapists with expertise in GLBT identities and/or queer theory. Panelists completed two rounds of Delphi questionnaires to identify tenets of queer theory, impacts on their own work of GLBT identity and/or queer theory, potential impacts of these perspectives on the MFT field, and factors that would inhibit or facilitate such change. A standard Delphi analysis of median and interquartile ranges yielded 186 items of agreement that reflected panelists' views moderately well or very well.

The final results that panelists are fairly knowledgeable about queer theory, despite the relative invisibility of this analysis in the field to date. Panelists agreed that their theory, practice, teaching, and supervision had all been impacted by experience with GLBT identities and queer theory, with a general expansion of their viewpoints and greater openness to client experience as results. They generated and expressed high consensus on a list of changes, largely positive, that they felt increased attention to these two perspectives would create for the field, and identified factors ranging from the level of individual MFTs up through the climate and leadership of the field as a whole that could either support or hinder such change.


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