Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Contingency Contracting in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Mariana K. FalconierEmail author
  • Norman B. Epstein
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_78

Name of Intervention

Contingency contracting in couple and family therapy


Contingency contracting is a tool based on social learning principles and that has long been used in marital and family therapy, particularly in behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, and systemic therapies. Contingency contracts are written agreements in which partners or family members agree to engage in a behavior identified as desirable by another partner or family member(s) and in which positive consequences for compliance and negative consequences for noncompliance with the contract are specified (Jacobson 1977). These contracts structure reciprocal exchanges with agreements on “who is to do what, for whom, under which circumstances, times, and places” (Liberman et al. 1976, p.392), on the specific rewards for desirable behavior, and on the consequences for undesirable behaviors.

Theoretical Framework

Contingency contracting is consistent with social learning principles and the social exchange...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityFalls ChurchUSA
  2. 2.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

Section editors and affiliations

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