Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Operant Conditioning in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Jasara N. HoganEmail author
  • Brian R. W. Baucom
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_48

Name of the Strategy or Intervention

Operant Conditioning in Couple and Family Therapy


In couple and family therapy (C&FT), the principles of operant conditioning are used as a lens to understand the development of dysfunctional patterns of interaction and subsequently leveraged to encourage behavior change designed to increase positive and decrease negative interactions, thus leading to improved relationship functioning.

Theoretical Framework

Operant conditioning is a process in which the probability of a behavior recurring is directly linked to the outcome of that behavior (Skinner 1966). Individuals are more likely to increase behaviors that have been linked to favorable outcomes and to decrease behaviors that lead to outcomes the individual does not wish to repeat.

Rationale for the Strategy or Intervention

Although the goal of operant conditioning-based interventions is a change in behavior, it is necessary to also consider what occurred before the behavior, the...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Brian Baucom
    • 1
  1. 1.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA