Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Paradoxical Directive in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Linna WangEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_320

Name of Concept

Paradoxical Directive


Invariant prescription; Paradoxical intervention; Prescribing the symptom


The Webster dictionary definition of the word “paradox” is “a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true.” Many think paradox is something mysterious. Actually, everyday life is peppered with paradoxical statements. “You have to spend money to make money,” “I spank you because I love you,” “Less is more,” and “It has to get worse before it gets better,” are just a few examples. As one can see, these statements put two contradicting elements in one statement. At first glance, these statements do not make sense, yet to give it a thought, they are sort of true.

Paradoxical Directive is one of the hall mark interventions in Strategic Family Therapy. Strategic family therapists are interested in generating changes in behavior and solve specific problems. They are known to design novel intervention strategies...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alliant International UniversitySan DiegoUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Eli Karam
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA