In the Supporting Father Involvement (SFI) project, the Cowans and Pruetts work in collaboration. Originally, the team worked in collaboration with the Office of Child Abuse Prevention, a unit of the California Department of Social Services. Since then, interested agencies or funders work with the team to tailor the intervention to their unique community. In addition to their participation in creating the overall design of the intervention, the team can provide consultative or full support for the intervention or evaluation arms of the project. The first empirical paper on Supporting Father involvement was recognized with the Best Research Article Award from the Men in Families Focus Group of the National Council on Family Relations in 2010.
Kyle Pruett, MD
Dr. Kyle Pruett, Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry and Nursing, has served as Director of Medical Studies at the Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center, where he received both the Lifetime Distinguished Teaching and Lifetime Achievement awards for being ‘the psychiatrist’s psychiatrist’. He has been in the private practice of infant, child, adolescent and family psychiatry since 1974 in New Haven and Guilford, CT and since 2007, Northampton, MA.
Award-winning author and researcher, his writings include 100+ original scientific articles, the classic Nurturing Father, (American Health Book Award), Fatherneed, Me, Myself and I: The Child’s Sense of Self (Independent Book Publisher’s Award), and Partnership Parenting: How Men and Women Parent Differently-Why it Helps Your Kids and Can Strengthen Your Marriage (also published in Mandarin). With his wife Marsha Kline Pruett, Ph.D., he served as co-investigator in the Collaborative Divorce Project to reduce the trauma of divorce in young children’s lives, and with Drs. Carolyn and Phil Cowan, the award-winning 8 yr., 900+ family, multi-site, multi-cultural abuse and neglect prevention study, ‘Supporting Fatherhood Involvement’ for California’s Office of Child Abuse Prevention (with replications in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Canada and the UK.). He was a founding member of UN Study Group on Fathers and Children which convened at Oxford in 1996, and served as Visiting Professor of Psychiatry to the University of Calgary School of Medicine. He consults to the international Early Childhood Peace Consortium at the United Nations/UNICEF. He also co-leads the Early Childhood Post-Graduate Fellowship for the Salama bint Hamdan Foundation in Abu Dhabi.
He is a frequent contributor to national and international media (NYTimes, WSJ, Boston Globe,etc.), on matters pertaining to children’s mental health and their families, with an emphasis on paternal engagement and its effect on child well-being. He appears frequently on television, with appearances on NBC, CBS, ABC News, CBS Morning News, NPR. etc. He hosted his own 24 series live parenting show for Lifetime: “Your Child 6 to 12 with Dr. Kyle Pruett”. He writes a blog for Psychology Today, and served on the PBS National Advisory Board, and Sesame Workshop Board of Directors. He was chosen by Peter Jennings to co-host the ‘Children’s Town Meeting’ for ABC News the Saturday after 9/11, and by Oprah Winfrey to co-host her video for new parents, “Begin With Love”.
Marsha Kline Pruett, PhD., MSL, ABPP
faculty website: www.smith.edu
Dr. Kline Pruett is the Maconda Brown O’Connor Chair in Research at the Smith School for Social Work. She has a Master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree in Legal Studies from the Yale School of Law, as well as a Ph.D. in Clinical/Community Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley. She is Board Certified in Couple and Family Psychology and has training certificates in family therapy, mediation, and collaborative divorce. She has twenty-five years of clinical experience with individuals, couples, families and children. She is best known for the development, implementation, and evaluation of preventive interventions in schools and courts. Dr. Kline Pruett’s clinical and research interests revolve around the promotion of healthy family development during life transitions, particularly those transitions adverse events or circumstances. She specializes in family issues pertaining to early development, communication, conflict, and family law. Her expertise includes couples counseling and consultation, father involvement consultation, expert witness work and legal case development for attorneys. She also provides clinical consultation to programs and institutions, with family transition and alternative dispute resolution foci. Her writings include numerous scholarly articles, chapters, edited and co-authored books, including Your Divorce Advisor (2001 by Simon and Schuster) and Partnership Parenting (2009, Perseus).
Recent projects include curricula and preventive interventions in the U.S. and Canada for mental health professionals from various disciplines, with a focus on family court professionals and parents of young children, as well as a recent clinical neuroscience curriculum for practitioners that she designed with her husband, Kyle Pruett. She is also involved in the design and evaluation of model Alternative Dispute Resolution programs that help families resolve disputes outside of the adversarial system. Her research on a model continuum of effective and cost-efficient co-parenting services, father involvement, and parenting plans for young children earned her the Association of Family and Conciliation Court’s Stanley Cohen Award for Distinguished Research. She works locally and nationally with Task Forces (e.g., Governor- or judicially-appointed) charged with developing Best Practice guidelines or legislation. In 2016-17, she served as President of the international Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). Since much of her scholarship and clinical work has implications for family policy, Dr. Kline Pruett writes for lay as well as professional audiences and disseminates her work through clinical and media consultations, and speaking engagements across North America and abroad.
Carolyn Pape Cowan, PhD. and Philip A. Cowan, PhD.
In the Supporting Father Involvement Project (SFI), the Pruetts worked for 10 years with Philip and Carolyn Cowan, initially in collaboration with the Office of Child Abuse Prevention, a unit of the California Department of Social Services. In this program, couples groups meeting weekly for 4 months were able to increase father involvement, maintain couple relationship satisfaction, reduce parenting stress, and prevent the development of behavior problems in the children – all central risks for child abuse or neglect and domestic violence. The first SFI empirical paper on Supporting Father involvement was recognized as the Best Research Article Award from the Men in Families Focus Group of the National Council on Family Relations in 2010. The report from the second round of the SFI program was published in 2014 and the report from the third round is in preparation. Marsha Pruett, in conjunction with the Cowans and Kyle Pruett, leads professional development trainings of the team, provides electronic supervision and consultation to staff at various sites, and works on the evaluation design and dissemination aspects of the project. The Pruetts lead the project’s implementation and evaluation in Alberta, Canada.
Carolyn Pape Cowan is Professor of Psychology Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley where she is co-director of 3 longitudinal preventive intervention projects: Becoming a Family, Schoolchildren and Their Families, and Supporting Father Involvement. Dr. Cowan has published widely in the professional literature on family relationships, family transitions, and the evaluation of preventive interventions. She is co-editor of Fatherhood today: Men’s Changing Role in the Family (Wiley, 1988) and The Family Context of Parenting in the Child’s Adaptation to School (Erlbaum, 2005), and co-author with Phil Cowan of When Partners Become Parents: The Big Life Change for Couples (Erlbaum, 2000), which has been translated into 6 languages. Prof. Cowan consults widely on the development, training, and evaluation of interventions for parents.
Philip A. Cowan is Professor of Psychology Emeritus and Professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley. He is co-director of 3 longitudinal preventive intervention projects with Carolyn Pape Cowan. Dr. Cowan served as Director of the Clinical Psychology Program and the Institute of Human Development at UC Berkeley. In addition to authoring numerous scientific articles, he is the author of Piaget with Feeling (Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1978), co-author of When Partners Become Parents: The Big Life Change for Couples (Erlbaum, 2000), and co-editor of four books and monographs, including Family Transitions (Erlbaum, 1990), and The Family Context of Parenting in the Child’s Adaptation to School (Erlbaum, 2005).
For more than four decades, Phil and Carolyn Cowan have conducted longitudinal studies that include randomized clinical trials of couples group interventions. The central theme of their work is that positive couple relationships play a central role in creating a positive context for parenting, and help to enhance children’s development and adaptation. The Becoming a Family Project showed that a 6-month-long weekly couples group with clinically trained leaders was able to maintain marital satisfaction of new parents over a period of 5 years, while control group couples showed the normative decline in marital satisfaction found in more than 30 studies in the US and abroad. The Schoolchildren and Their Families Project offered 4-month-long weekly couples groups in the year before their first child entered elementary school; these groups were able to reduce marital conflict, increase parenting effectiveness, and reduce children’s behavior problems in kindergarten – effects that were maintained over ten years and facilitated the children’s transition to high school. In 1999, the Cowans received an award for Distinguished Contribution to Family Systems Research from the American Family Therapy Academy.
In 2000 Carolyn and Phil Cowan were among the founding members of the Council on Contemporary Families, an organization that has been devoted to working with the media on finding balanced ways of presenting family issues for the past 10 years.