Meet the Team

For the past two decades, the Cowans and Pruetts have been working together to design groups for fathers and mothers, with the goal of strengthening co-parent and parent-child relationships and inclusive fathering in ways that will benefit their children. In each trial of the intervention, they have trained the co-leaders of the groups and evaluated the results concerning parents’ and children’s well-being.

About Us

In the Supporting Father Involvement (SFI) project, also known as Parents as Partners (PasP), the Cowans and Pruetts work as a team. Almost two decades ago they began a collaboration with the Office of Child Abuse Prevention, a unit of the California Department of Social Services. Since then, their participation in new SFI/PasP trials has expanded to different locations within the United States and internationally to Canada, England, Malta, and Israel.

Collaborating agencies or funders work with the Development team to tailor the intervention to the needs of their unique communities. In addition to creating the overall design of the intervention, the team provides consulting or full support for intervention training, implementation, and evaluation of the program. 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.

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 as of 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, co-authored with Marsha Kline Pruett (also published in Mandarin). He was a founding member of the 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 and University of California (Davis). 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.
Dr. Pruett iis 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 the Once Upon a Child blog for Psychology Today, and has served on the PBS National Advisory Board, and the 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”.
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. Her clinical experience ranges across individuals, couples, families and children. Throughout her career, she has been involved in 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 causing adverse events or circumstances. She specializes in family issues pertaining to early development, communication, conflict, and family law. Her clinical work includes couples counseling and consultation, father involvement consultation, parenting plan development, expert witness work and legal case development for attorneys. She also provides clinical consultation and develops curricula for programs and institutions with family transition and alternative dispute resolution emphases. 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).
Dr. Kline Pruett teaches community engagement and related topics to undergraduate, master’s level and doctoral students and is actively engaged as a Professor as well as researcher. She has led projects including curricula development and preventive interventions in the U.S. and Canada for mental health professionals from various disciplines, such as a clinical neuroscience curriculum for practitioners that she designed with her husband, Kyle Pruett. Most of her work involves family court professionals and parents of young children. Her research on a model continuum of effective and cost-efficient co-parenting services, father involvement, and parenting plans for young children in family court earned her the Association of Family and Conciliation Court’s Stanley Cohen Award for Distinguished Research. She currently is developing a co-parenting tool that can be used with parents across family structures, serves on the Family Justice Advisory Committee to the Institute for the Advancement of American Legal Reform (IAALS), and is evaluating the Family Resolutions Specialty Court in Hampshire County, MA. In 2016-17, she served as President of the international Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and is the current Social Science Editor for the Family Court Review. 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.
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, which helps to enhance children’s development and adaptation. The Becoming a Family Project, groups for partners becoming parents, showed that a 6-month-long weekly couples group with clinically trained leaders was able to maintain new parents’ marital satisfaction 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 similar 4-month-long weekly couples groups in the year before their first child entered elementary school. Systematic evaluations revealed that these groups reduced marital conflict, increased parenting effectiveness, and reduced children’s behavior problems in kindergarten – effects that were maintained over ten years and facilitated the children’s transition to high school (Cowan, Cowan, & Barry, 2011). In 1999, the Cowans received an award for Distinguished Contribution to Family Systems Research from the American Family Therapy Academy.
In the Supporting Father Involvement Project, the Cowans worked with the Pruetts, 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 compared to a no-intervention control group showed increased father involvement, maintenance of couple relationship satisfaction, reductions in parenting stress, and a reduction of behavior problems in the children – each of which represents a risk for child abuse, child neglect, and domestic violence. The first SFI empirical paper on Supporting Father Involvement (2009) 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 Supporting Father Involvement (SFI) project was published in 2014 and the report from the third round in 2019 (See publications). The Pruetts led the project’s implementation and evaluation in Alberta, Canada, as the Cowans did in the UK and Malta.

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). In 2000 Carolyn and Phil Cowan were among the founding members of the Council on Contemporary Families, an organization devoted to working with the media on supporting balanced ways of presenting family issues.

The Sculpture

This elegant sculpture captures the importance of the quality of relationship between a father and his baby/child – and the closeness of the parents – that we hope to foster in our Supporting Father Involvement/Parents as Partners program.

Name of the Piece: Family

Artist’s Name: Ruth Bloch, Israeli sculptor

Size: 76” Bronze

Currently on display at the Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco, California

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