Two essential concepts shape CFCC’s focus, activities and approaches.
Therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) is an approach to the law that encourages a focus on how interactions with the justice system impact the behavior, emotions and mental health of individuals involved in these situations.
Created by Professor David Wexler and the late Professor Bruce Winick within the context of mental health and disability law, the principles of TJ now are applied to all areas of the law. CFCC’s founder and director, Professor Barbara Babb, was the first to explore in her scholarship the implementation of therapeutic jurisprudence specifically within the area of family law. She serves on the Global Advisory Council for the International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence. She writes in her article, An Interdisciplinary Approach to Family Law Jurisprudence: Application of an Ecological and Therapeutic Perspective, 72 Indiana Law Journal 775 (1997): “In the field of family law, therapeutic jurisprudence should strive to protect families and children from present and future harms, to reduce emotional turmoil, to promote family harmony or preservation, and to provide individualized and efficient, effective justice.”
The Ecology of Human Development
The ecology of human development emphasizes a holistic or systems approach to resolve family problems. In her article, An Interdisciplinary Approach to Family Law Jurisprudence: Application of an Ecological and Therapeutic Perspective, 72 Indiana Law Journal 775 (1997), Professor Babb writes: “Application of the ecology of human development paradigm to family law decisionmaking can assist judges to identify the complex factors affecting families' lives. Equipped with this expanded knowledge and consistent with notions of the law's need to promote social welfare, family law decisionmakers can use the law's power to more effectively intervene in families' and children's lives. Adoption of this ecological framework thus compels the need for an interdisciplinary approach to family law jurisprudence.”
The ecology of human development research paradigm was developed by the late Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner to offer psychologists and other social scientists a framework to explore the relationships individuals have within families, communities and the wider society, as illustrated below. This model illustrates how the roles, behavior and norms within an individual’s environment shape the person’s development.
Illustration of the inter-relationships elaborated in Bronfenbrenner's original theoretical model of human development, from Psychology Wiki.