Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Emotion in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Stephanie A. WiebeEmail author
  • Sue M. Johnson
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_175

Name of Concept

Emotion in couple and family therapy


Affect in couple and family therapy


Our couple and family relationships are characterized by emotional experiencing. When these relationships are going well, we feel joy, interest, and calm. Relationship distress, on the other hand, is characterized by intense negative emotions such as anger and contempt. However, emotional numbing and distancing and lack of emotional responsiveness are even more corrosive for relationships than chronic anger (Gottman et al. 1998). Traditional views of emotion in couple and family therapy, however, have seen intense emotions as a destructive force rather than a positive source of change; interventions have sought to bypass or supplant them with new cognitions or communication skill sequences. However, more recently in the field of couple and family therapy there has been movement toward acknowledging the importance of working with the emotion that arises within the context of...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Ottawa Hospital, The University of OttawaInternational Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused TherapyOttawaCanada
  2. 2.The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused TherapyThe University of OttawaOttawaCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kelley Quirk
    • 1
  • Adam R. Fisher
    • 2
  1. 1.Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA