Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Time Outs in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Whitney ChristmasEmail author
  • Amy Wu
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_98


Negotiated time-out; Taking a break; Taking a pause


Arguments between partners often reach a point of escalation – where neither partner is listening and hurtful statements are said out of anger. These arguments leave both partners feeling hurt, angry, and unheard. During times of escalation, a couple may choose to take a Time Out from the discussion. Time Outs provide couples with an opportunity to pause unproductive and hurtful arguments and resume them when they feel calmer to interact in a more effective way.

Theoretical Framework

Time Outs are utilized as a communication training strategy that originates from Behavioral Couple Therapy (BCT). In BCT, couples are taught ways they can effectively communicate with each other (Jacobson and Margolin 1979). Time Outs aim to help couples increase positive behaviors while decreasing the negative behaviors. Time Outs have also been proven to be an effective de-escalation intervention for couples who experience...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

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