Marsha Kline Pruett, M.S., M.S.L., Ph.D., ABPP

Maconda Brown O'Connor Professor

Marsha Kline Pruett headshot

Contact Information

Lilly Hall 310



B.A., University of Pennsylvania

M.S., University of Pennsylvania

M.S.L., Yale School of Law

Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley


Marsha Kline Pruett joined the Smith SSW faculty from the department of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. She is the Maconda Brown O’Connor Professor at the Smith College School for Social Work. She has masters’ degrees in education (University of Penn) and in legal studies (Yale Law School), and a Ph.D. in clinical/community psychology (University of California at Berkeley). She is a clinical diplomate from the American Board of Professional Psychology in Couples and Family and a fellow from the Society for Couple and Family Psychology (Division 43) of the American Psychological Association. Kline Pruett’s interests revolve around the promotion of healthy family development during life transitions. Her work involves the development, implementation, and evaluation of preventive interventions in schools, community agencies and courts. She specializes in family issues pertaining to early development, communication, conflict and the power of group interventions and professional collaborations.

Kline Pruett's writings include over 130 scholarly articles, chapters, co-edited and co-written books, including: Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (2001, Simon and Schuster); and Partnership Parenting (2009, Perseus). Kline Pruett has maintained a clinical practice since 1990 and has treated individual adults and children, couples and families. She also provides clinical consultation to programs and institutions, with organizational, family, and alternative dispute resolution foci. Through private practice and consulting, her clinical expertise includes couples counseling and consultation, father involvement consultation, mediation, child custody case consultation, expert witness testimony and collaborative divorce.

Since much of her scholarship and clinical work has implications for family policy, Kline Pruett writes for lay as well as professional audiences. She also works locally and nationally with task forces (e.g., governor- or judicially-appointed) charged with developing best practice guidelines or legislation. She has taught in the doctoral and masters programs at the Smith College School for Social Work and teaches undergraduate psychology seminars at Smith College.

She is involved in projects spanning supporting father involvement group interventions in the U.S. and Canada, the evaluation of online parenting programs, and the design and evaluation of model ADR programs that help families resolve disputes outside of the adversarial system. She has been a key consultant for numerous prevention programs, including the Out of Court Divorce program in Denver, CO and the Family Resolutions Specialty Court in Hampshire County, Massachusetts. In collaborative ventures with colleagues, she has designed a grid for decision-making about young children and overnights and a step-up template for increasing parenting time across the age spectrum which are used extensively throughout North America and abroad. Her research on a model continuum of effective and cost-efficient co-parenting services in the Connecticut courts, 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 is a past president of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and a longtime board member. She is the current social science editor for the Family Court Review.

One primary area of research and intervention concentrates on increasing fathers' involvement with their children. The Supporting Father Involvement project aims to reduce child abuse and neglect and enhance family well-being through an intervention that encourages father involvement and couple co-parenting (among married and unmarried parents). The State of California funded a 10-year study that examined the efficacy of father-only versus couples intervention groups against a third condition control group. In the last phase of the project, intervention effectiveness was compared for child welfare – involved and non-involved families. The project is producing data about how to involve men early in their children’s lives, and how to best work with parents and other caregivers as a team to promote children’s development. Since funding has ended, the project continues through private sources in various locales in California, and has spread to Alberta Canada, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and the U.K. A program for Indigenous families in Western Canada and for families in mainland China are also underway. In 2017, the UK version of SFI (Parents as Partners) won a “Best Family Support Intervention” National Award. 

In addition to producing new research, Kline Pruett is currently involved in making research more accessible through various curricular and continuing education training programs for professionals from various disciplines. She is embarking on a co-parenting research library to which parents and legal professionals will have access to social science research pertaining to family law, along with the ability to get critiques and syntheses of the literature on a regularly updated basis. She speaks regularly nationally and abroad, provides training to mental health and legal professionals, and she disseminates her work through media presentations and guest interviews across electronic and print mediums. 

Selected Publications

Cowan, P.A., Cowan, C.P., Pruett, M.K. & Pruett, K.D. (2017). An attachment-informed couple intervention: A review of the evidence base from independent studies in California and England.  In H.S. Steele & M. Steele (Eds.), Handbook of attachment-based interventions (pp. 466-492). New York, NY: Guilford. 

Pruett, M.K. (2017). Guest editorial introduction. Smith College Studies in Social Work. Published online: Jun 2, 2017,

Pruett, M.K. Everett, J. & del Mar Farina, M. (Eds.) (2017). Smith College Studies in Social Work. Special issue on perspectives of clinicians of color, 87(2/3). Published online

Pruett, M.K. & Cornett, L. (2017). Evaluation of the University of Denver’s Center for Separating and Divorcing Families: The first out-of-court divorce option. Family Court Review, 55(3), 375-389.

Pruett, M.K., Cowan, C.P., Cowan, P.A. & Pruett, K.D. (2017). Enhancing father involvement in low-income families: A couples group approach to preventive intervention. Child development: Special section, developmental research and translational science: Evidence-based interventions for at-risk youth and families, 88(2), 398-407.

Pruett, M.K., Gillette, P. & Pruett, K.D. (2017). Supporting father involvement to promote co-parent, parent and child outcomes in a Canadian context. Psychology and Psychological Research International Journal, 1(1).

Pruett, M. K., Pruett, K., Cowan, C. P., & Cowan, P. A. (2017). Enhancing paternal engagement in a co-parenting paradigm. Child Development Perspectives, 11(4), 245-250. DOI: 10.1111/cdep.12239

Saini, M. & Pruett, M.K. (2017). Divorce. In Oxford Bibliography Online: Social Work. Ed. Edward Mullen. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195389678-0035    

Schepard, A. Pruett, M.K., & Kourlis, R. (2017). The family law bar, the interdisciplinary Resource Center for Separating and Divorcing Families, and the “spark to kindle the white flame of progress”. Special Issue of Family Court Review, 55(1), 84-96.

Pruett, M.K., Cowan P.A., Cowan, C.P., Gillette, P. & Pruett, K.P. (2019). Supporting Father Involvement: A group intervention for low-income community and child welfare referred couples. Family Relations, 68, 51-67. DOI: 10.1111.fare.12352

Cowan P.A., Cowan, C.P., Pruett, M.K. & Pruett, K.P. (2019). Fathers’ and mothers’ attachment styles, couple conflict, parenting quality, and children’s behavior problems: An intervention test of mediation. In P.A. Cowan & C.P. Cowan (Eds)., Attachment and Human Development: Special Issue on A Family Systems Perspective on Fathers and Attachment,21(5), 532-550.

Pruett, K.D., Pruett, M.K. & Deutsch, R. (in press) Bringing the previously absent father into the family. In L. Greenberg, B. Fidler, & M. Saini (Eds.)., Evidence-informed interventions for court-involved families: Promoting coping and healthy child development.

Pruett, M.K., Nakash, O., Welton, E., Cowan, C.P., & Cowan, P.A., & Gillette, P. (in press). Using an initial interview to assess the coparenting relationship within a family systems perspective: Preliminary examples from the Supporting Father Involvement project. Smith College Studies in Social Work.

Pruett, M.K., Schepard, A. Cornett, L., Gerety, C., & Kourlis, R.L. (in press). Law students on interdisciplinary, problem-solving teams: An empirical evaluation of educational outcomes at the University of Denver’s Resource Center for Separating and Divorcing Families. Family Court Review.

Saini, M., Pruett, M.K., Alschech, J. & Sushchyk, A. (in press). A pilot study to assess coparenting across family structures (CoPAFS). Journal of Child and Family Studies.  

Schepard, A., Pruett, M.K., & Kourlis, R.L. (in press). If we build it, they might come: Bridging the implementation gap between ADR services and separating and divorcing families. Harvard Negotiation Law Review.