Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Quid Pro Quo in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Eric HinojosaEmail author
  • Linda S. Metcalf
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_91


The origin of quid pro quo exceeds its concept in family systems theory. The colloquial use of the phrase can be traced back to 1654 in H. L’Estrange’s The Reign of King Charles, which translates as “one good turn deserves another” (Phrases 1997). There are also implications of quid pro quo in the evolution of social interaction. This interaction is dynamic in the balance of power in relationships (Kerber 1994). Don D. Jackson adopted the phrase as a concept in which couples already have a particular style of negotiating and communicating. The negotiation pattern is unconscious within a couple’s communication (Jackson 1965). Among other constructs for communication deficiencies, looking at the quid pro quos in couples became part of the intervention with marital dyads (Nichols 2003).

Theoretical Context for Family Therapy

Quid pro quo is primarily used as a family systems intervention. Most family systems theorists contend that the use of quid pro quo interventions should...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Becvar, D. S., & Becvar, R. J. (2008). Family therapy: A systematic integration. New York: Pearson.Google Scholar
  2. Gladding, T. S. (2014). Family therapy: History, theory, and practice. New York: Pearson.Google Scholar
  3. Jackson, D. D. (1965). Family rules: Marital quid pro quo. Archives of General Psychiatry, 12, 589–594.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Kerber, B. K. (1994). The marital balance of power and quid pro quo: An evolutionary perspective. Ethology and Sociobiology, 15, 283–297.Google Scholar
  5. Nichols, P. M. (2003). Family therapy: Concepts and methods. New York: Pearson.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Texas Wesleyan UniversityFort WorthUSA

Section editors and affiliations

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