Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Functional Analysis in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Qinyi ZhuEmail author
  • Danielle A. Black
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_83


Behavioral assessment; Behavioral therapy; Integrative behavioral couple therapy


Functional analysis (FA) is an assessment framework and a set of strategies to systematically integrate information about the form and function of clients’ behavior problems (O’Brien et al. 2016). The goal of FA is to identify important, controllable, and causal functional relationships between contextual events and a specified set of target behaviors.

A successful FA answers three key questions: What are problem behaviors? In what contexts those behaviors occur, maintain, and develop? What is the function of the behaviors in those contexts? To answer these three questions, functional analysis includes three elements. First, the therapist formulates measurable operational definitions of target behaviors, that is, behaviors that are closely related to presenting problems. Target behaviors include three modes of responding, including cognitive-verbal behaviors, physiological-affective...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.Center for Applied Psychological and Family Studies, The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  3. 3.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityChicagoUSA

Section editors and affiliations

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