Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Acceptance Versus Behavior Change in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Karen Rothman
  • Emily J. Georgia
  • Brian D. DossEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-15877-8_71-1

Name of Concept

Acceptance Versus Behavior Change in Couple and Family Therapy


At the broadest level, change techniques make direct attempts to modify behavior, while acceptance techniques attempt to modify the understanding, interpretation, or impact of behaviors or events. While change interventions generally solicit changes in the partner, acceptance interventions generally target modifications in the self.

Theoretical Context for Concept

Change techniques formed the core of the first behavioral couple therapy interventions, including the first published trial in 1969. Behavioral couple therapy (BCT), as it is often used today, was manualized by Neil S. Jacobson and Gayla Margolin in 1979. Change techniques were adapted in the early 1980s by premarital education and enrichment programs and were delivered to non-distressed couples.

In the context of couple interventions, acceptance approaches have their origins in integrative behavioral couple therapy (IBCT). Based on...

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


  1. Christensen, A., Atkins, D. C., Baucom, B., & Yi, J. (2010). Marital status and satisfaction five years following a randomized clinical trial comparing traditional versus integrative behavioral couple therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 225–235.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Christensen, A., Wheeler, J. G., Doss, B. D., & Jacobson, N. S. (2014). Couple distress. In D. Barlow (Ed.), Clinical handbook of psychological disorders: A step-by-step treatment manual (5th ed., pp. 704–728). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  3. Dimidjian, D., Martell, C. R., & Christensen, A. (2008). Integrative behavioral couple therapy. In A. S. Gurman (Ed.), Clinical handbook of couple therapy (4th ed., pp. 73–101). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Rothman
    • 1
  • Emily J. Georgia
    • 1
  • Brian D. Doss
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.University of MiamiMiamiUSA

Section editors and affiliations

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