In the early days of theoretical formulation and validation in family social science, prominent researchers in the field cited the need for multi-system and multi-method measures to accurately assess the dynamics of family functioning and to rigorously evaluate their theoretical constructs. Beginning in the 1970s, Dr. David H. Olson, (now Professor Emeritus), Family Social Science at University of Minnesota, introduced many of his graduate students to the “Kvebæk Family Sculpture Test” along with other instruments to assess cohesion and distance within the family. Many doctoral dissertations over several decades employed the KFST in their research. A seminal publication appearing in 1980 by Cromwell, Fournier & Kvebæk on The Kvebæk Family Sculpture Technique: A diagnostic and research tool in family therapy is foundational for those researchers considering incorporating the Kvebæk instrument in their research design. These American social scientists and Kvebæk developed a computerized scoring system for use in conjunction with the Kvebæk Family Sculpture Test.

Much more is known today about essential elements in healthy family functioning than in those pioneering years, largely as a result of a substantial body of research, including that by David H. Olson, the author of the Circumplex Model Of Marital And Family Systems. He and his graduate students conducted many validation studies over a period of years to test out hypotheses about family structure and communication patterns. The scales they developed, called the “Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation” (FACES) result in data that correlates significantly with the KFST measure of distance, suggesting convergent validity for the Kvebæk instrument. An important journal article examining this correlation is one in 1990 by Berry, et al, “Empirical Validity of the Kvebæk Family Sculpture Technique.” Other noteworthy research has been conducted by Dr. Thomas Gehring and his associates in both Switzerland and the United States with an instrument he developed based on Kvebæk’s Family Sculpture Test. (See Resources for reference citations.)

Research conducted by psychologists, medical doctors and social workers that employs the KFST or the KST has been published in the United States, Germany, Israel and Norway. Of special note are those authored by Eckblad, Vandvik, Novik, and Solem. The “Key Literature Resources” found on the Literature and Links page provides a detailed listing of professional literature including those with a research focus and others on practice and staff development.

Healthy Human Systems is aware of ongoing research using the KST instrument in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the United States by professionals in the fields of nursing, psychiatry, psychology, social work and sociology. If we have left out anyone who is conducting research in other places, we are eager to hear about your project. Contact Us!