Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Therapeutic Contract in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Max ZubatskyEmail author
  • Angela Hiefner
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_552

Name of Concept

Therapeutic contract in couple and family therapy.


A counseling contract is a mutual agreement that is negotiated between the therapist and the client. A contract highlights the rights and responsibilities that both parties intend to uphold in treatment. Contracting also ensures that the counseling process will be performed in a good and safe manner and, as a written document, provides the necessary space for legal intervention if the responsibilities outlined are not met (Beahrs and Gutheil 2001). Often times, clients may need specific contracts beyond just informed consent, addressing complex issues or ethical concerns that may affect the therapeutic process. Each practitioner should evaluate the situation and context of a contract when determining its use in treatment.

There has been much debate among psychotherapists and healthcare professionals alike around the utility of contracts. Some view contracts as being restrictive to the therapeutic process...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family and Community MedicineSaint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Sean Davis
    • 1
  1. 1.California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International UniversitySacramentoUSA