Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Positive Reinforcement in Couples and Families

  • Jennifer M. Lorenzo
  • Rupsha Singh
  • Robin A. BarryEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_49

Name of Concept

Positive reinforcement in couple and family therapy




A reinforcement is any consequence or experience that follows a behavior and increases the likelihood of the behavior occurring in the future. A positive reinforcement is a consequence of behavior that is added to the individual’s environment rather than removed. For example, receiving verbal appreciation from one’s mother following helpful behavior is positive reinforcement to the extent that it promotes helpful behavior in the future. Positive reinforcement in couple and family therapy describes therapeutic techniques that aim to increase the desired behaviors of couple and family members to promote therapeutic goals.

Theoretical Framework for Concept

Positive reinforcement in couple and family therapy is derived from operant behavior theory (e.g., Skinner 1953). Operant theory explains a way in which behavior is learned. The theory purports that the consequences of, or experiences that...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer M. Lorenzo
    • 1
  • Rupsha Singh
    • 1
  • Robin A. Barry
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore CountryBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA

Section editors and affiliations

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