Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Circular Questioning in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Chris J. GonzalezEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_314

Name of the Strategy or Intervention

Circular questioning


Circular questioning is a systemic method of clinical inquiry initially developed by the Milan Associates (Palazzoli Selvini et al. 1980) and later adapted widely within the field of couple and family therapy (Fleuridas et al. 1986). The innovative work of the Milan Associates applied systems theory and cybernetic epistemology to clinical work with family systems which, in part, resulted in an approach to therapy which directed questions toward a relational system rather than an individual (Palazzoli Selvini et al. 1980). Circular questioning is a practical methodology that makes the clinical shift from individual and linear to relational and circular (Fleuridas et al. 1986).

Theoretical Framework

Circular questioning emerged amidst the rise of the systemic revolution in mental health treatment in the twentieth century. The emerging systemic theories of Bateson (1972) and Watzlawick et al. (Watzlawick et al. 1967)...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Counseling, and Family Science, Lipscomb UniversityNashvilleUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • David Kearns
    • 1
  • Bahareh Sahebi
    • 2
  1. 1.Iowa CityUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA