Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Coalition in Couple and Family Therapy

  • George M. SimonEmail author
  • Heather Katafiasz
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_1158


Prominent in the descriptions of family functioning offered by the earliest approaches to family therapy is the notion of the dysfunctional triangle. Versions of this notion can be found in Bowen family systems theory (BFST), in the strategic therapy (ST) developed by Jay Haley and Chloe Madanes, and in structural family therapy (SFT), developed by Salvador Minuchin and his colleagues.

Triangulation in Bowen Family Systems Theory

From a Bowen family systems theory perspective, triangulation is a rigid process that occurs as a result of excess chronic anxiety (Bowen 1978). A primary dyad is not considered to be a stable relationship from this perspective due to the difficulty with which two people manage the chronic anxiety experienced within the relationship. Therefore, creating an emotional triangle by bringing a third member into the primary dyad is thought to stabilize the relationship by allowing the chronic anxiety to have more avenues to disperse and allowing the...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Minuchin Center for the FamilyWoodburyUSA
  2. 2.The University of AkronAkronUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Douglas C. Breunlin
    • 1
  1. 1.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA