Episode 190 - Dr. Geoffrey Greif and Dr. Michael Woolley: Adult Sibling Relationships

Monday, April 25, 2016, 8:18:05 AM

Image of Dr. Geoffrey Greif and Dr. Michael Woolley

When addressing the topic of family therapy, the focus is generally on children or adolescents and their parents, or the marital/partner dyad. This podcast, however, looks at a different family system: adult siblings. These relationships are generally the longest relationships we have, but little is known about them. In this episode, Drs. Geoffrey Greif and Michael Woolley discuss their research on and clinical implications for adult sibling relationships.

Download MP3 (36.2 MB)

Audio Transcript PDF document.

Listener Reviews

7 Reviews
5 star:
4 star:
3 star:
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
Average Listener Review

Average Rating: 4.4 stars (7 listener reviews )

Share your thoughts with others

Create Your Own Review

Average Rating: 4stars  adult sibling relationships , Monday, April 16, 2018

By KWashburn :

Dr. Greif and Dr. Woolley discuss their research on a topic that is often overlooked, that is adult sibling relationships. They begin by highlighting the importance of this relationship as the longest which individuals have. This is something I had not previously thought about but as they said explained this, I quickly realized the importance of this relationship. Dr. Greif and Dr. Woolley research incorporates both qualitative and quantitative research which provides a holistic approach to the topic. They utilize both methods to direct their current and future research. Qualitative research is often regarded as less valuable, however this research points to the benefit of utilizing both. Additionally, both Dr. Greif and Dr. Woolley are transparent in their discussion of the research. Starting from their own sibling experience throughout the progression of their research. This makes their discussion interesting and easy to understand.

Flag This


Average Rating: 4stars  episode 190 - podcast review , Wednesday, February 08, 2017

By Jennifer G :

I found this Podcast to be very insightful. Dr. Greif and Dr. Woolley immediately point out that sibling relationships are often the longest we have, yet on a personal level I don’t think it’s ever something I have thought about in depth.

I found myself analyzing how my relationship with my sibling has progressed over our life span, and as well the relationship with our parents. I was interested to see if the study would touch upon birth order, and was also more interested to hear that there was no concrete results that determined any specific characteristics of birth order. It was interesting that the study found parental favouritism to span throughout the life course, which potentially creates issues when the time comes for the siblings to decide how to care for their aging parents or during the death of a parent.

Comparable to results from the study, as my sister and I grow, I would agree that we are affectionate, supportive of each other’s actions and life choices, and provide a concrete level of caring. I have also seen several sibling relationships that are strained or have little communication due to feelings of resentment, past issues they are unable to move on from. Something I have done in counselling sessions, and was pleased when it was brought up during the discussion was the concept of having a client write a letter. Whether or not the client sent it, it proved to be somewhat therapeutic and almost a sense of relief that they could release what they were feeling and have someone else acknowledge their pain or frustration.

This podcast was very educational and provided great insight into study methods for this specific group, as well as analysis of data. As a new social worker, it is beneficial to understand the process and thinking behind the study which is what Dr. Greif and Dr. Woolley were able to provide. I enjoyed listening to the doctors describe their own family relationships, and what this study brought forth for them.

Flag This


Average Rating: 5stars  adult sibling relationships, Monday, February 06, 2017

By Rachelle :

I very much enjoyed this podcast. Adult sibling relationships is something I was intrigued to learn about. I found that the information about sister and sister sibling relationships are better than brother and brother sibling relationships made sense to me. I have witnessed this in many families how the sisters communicate more and care and support each other than brothers do. Also reading the statistics about how favoritism towards one child more than the other from the parent can still affect the siblings into adulthood was interesting to think about. And how the death of parent/parents can bring the siblings come together after many years of not getting along or break the siblings apart. I will be tuning in to when you guys conclude your research regarding in-laws. Overall this was a fascinating podcast and I will be keeping this in mind during my social work practice.

Flag This


Average Rating: 5stars  very informative, Sunday, February 05, 2017

By Jane :

I appreciate Dr. Greif and Dr. Woolley how you discuss adult sibling relationships within the family systems and how they evolve over time. I believe many of us, including myself, would like to believe these adult sibling relationships will remain constant as we continue to age but this is not always the case. You mentioned that one can have two different relationships, with two different siblings, and I believe sometimes individuals including myself, feel as though this type of family situation is unique to them, however data shows this far from the case.

Especially interesting were your findings that parental favoritism of child not only can predict worse sibling relationships in childhood and adulthood, but is further linked to how siblings agree and work together in taking care of an aging parent. As I reflect on my own family dynamics, and from accounts of those of my peers, there can be a significant upheaval in sibling relationships after the death of a parent or parents, and sometimes the adult sibling relationship does not recover from this. I do think it is important as you mentioned to read the data about the experiences of others, as well as your own experiences in order to understand the struggles of the client. Thank you for providing insight as well into different approaches to take with clients in order to help them get through a complicated sibling relationship, I will note them for future use.

Flag This


Average Rating: 5stars  great interview!, Sunday, May 22, 2016

By Caroline :

Really enjoyed learning about the interesting findings and the way the researchers made sense of the complexities of sibling relationships. Thanks for offering this!

Flag This


Average Rating: 5stars  test, Friday, May 06, 2016

By Julie Hasselbeck :


Flag This


Average Rating: 3stars  test, Friday, May 06, 2016

By Test :


Flag This

DISCLAIMER: The content shared by the presenter(s) and/or interviewer(s) of each podcast is their own and not necessarily representative of any views, research, or practice from the UB School of Social Work or the inSocialWork® podcast series.