Laurie Heatherington Honored for Distinguished Contribution to Family Systems Research

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., October 20, 2010 — Laurie Heatherington, the Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of Psychology at Williams College, was awarded the Distinguished Contribution to Family Systems Research Award along with collaborator Myrna Friedlander of the State University of New York at Albany.

The award, given annually by the American Family Therapy Academy, honors individuals for “outstanding research on subjects central to the field of family therapy.” The award is given either for lifetime career achievement or for a single contribution that has played a seminal role in the field. The criteria for the award include systematic investigation of important family therapy issues; superior use of qualitative and/or quantitative methodology; innovative techniques of data collection, measurement, and analysis; examination of new research areas; integration of different conceptual frameworks; substantive contribution to knowledge in the field; and development of theory.

Heatherington’s research interests include family therapy change processes and the therapeutic alliance, and cognition in family relationships and psychotherapy. She and Friedlander have most recently published work on therapeutic alliances in family therapy, including “The alliance in couple and family therapy,” in “Psychotherapy relationships that work: Evidence-based practice,” Oxford University Press.

Heatherington’s work has been published widely. She has co-authored two books: “Therapeutic Alliances in Couple and Family Therapy” (2006), with Friedlander and Valentin Escudero, and “The Psychology of Adjustment” (1998), with G. Goethals and S. Worchel. Heatherington has also had numerous articles published in journals such as “Psychotherapy Research,” “Journal of Family Psychology,” “Journal of Community Psychology,” and “Journal of Counseling Psychology.” She is the President-elect of the North American Society for Psychotherapy Research.

Within the Williams psychology department, Heatherington has taught classes including Psychological Disorders, Introductory Psychology, Psychotherapy: Theory and Research, and Clinical and Community Psychology. She has been a member of the Williams faculty since 1984.

Heatherington received her B.A. from Miami University (Ohio) and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Connecticut.


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.

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