Behavioural Approaches to Marital and Family Problems

  • Michael J. Crowe


Among the new areas of psychiatric interest to be tackled by behavioural approaches (Crowe, 1976a) marital and family problems have a special place. Traditionally, behavioural therapies are carried out in the clinic for the individual, and except in a few instances (for example in the treatment of obsessional rituals and the behaviour of autistic children) there is little attempt to restructure the patient’s home environment in order to perpetuate the change in behaviour achieved during therapy. In the treatment of marital and family problems, however, important parts of each person’s environment, namely his or her spouse, parents and children, are in the clinic at the time of the therapy, and are expected to change their behaviour, just as much as the designated ‘patient’ changes his, in order to solve the family or marital problem. This change of emphasis is, of course, not unique to behavioural approaches, and as we will see later, many other techniques have been used in marital and family therapy. But the particular interest for behavioural therapists in this area relates to the development of new techniques for changing interpersonal behaviour, and the ways of generalising such changes from the clinic environment to the home environment.


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© Raghu N. Gaind and Barbara L. Hudson 1978

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  • Michael J. Crowe

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