Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Triangles and Triangulation in Family Systems Theory

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-15877-8_758-1

Name of Concept

Triangulation

Synonyms

Introduction

Triangulation or triangling is defined in the AAMFT Family Therapy Glossary as the “process that occurs when a third person is introduced into a dyadic relationship to balance either excessive intimacy, conflict, or distance and provide stability in the system” (Evert et al. 1984 p. 32). This concept is associated with Murray Bowen (1978) who saw triangulation as a way to reduce anxiety in a dyadic relationship. Nichols and Schwartz (1998) note that Bowen developed the concept of triangulation in the late 1950s when he was involved on a NIMH project working with hospitalized families of a family member with schizophrenia. The use of triangles has also been found in the work of Salvador Minuchin (1974) and the “rigid triad,” as well as Jay Haley (1967) with the “perverse triangle,” among others. Although different in perspectives, they all share the same foundation of a third person being brought into a...

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References

  1. Bowen, M. (1978). Family therapy in clinical practice. Northvale: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  2. Evert, C. A., Russell, C. S., & Keller, J. (Eds.). (1984). Family therapy glossary. Washington, DC: AAMFT.Google Scholar
  3. Nichols, M. P., & Schwartz, R. C. (1998). Family therapy: Concepts and methods. Boston: Ally and Bacon.Google Scholar
  4. Rootes, K. M. H., Jankowski, P. J., & Sandage, S. J. (2010). Bowen family systems theory and spirituality: Exploring the relationship between triangulation and religious questing. Contemporary Family Therapy, 32(2), 89–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Wang, L., & Crane, D. R. (2001). The relationship between marital satisfaction, marital stability, nuclear family triangulation, and childhood depression. American Journal of Family Therapy, 29(4), 337–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Human DevelopmentVirginia TechFalls ChurchUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Eli Karam
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA