Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Paradox in Strategic Couple and Family Therapy

  • James RubyEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_296

Name of the Intervention

Paradox in Strategic Couple and Family Therapy

Synonyms

Paradoxical interventions; Paradoxical techniques

Introduction

Paradoxical interventions are therapeutic techniques that play an important role in couple and family therapy, particularly within communication, strategic, and systemic therapy. The couple or the family is often exposed to contradictory or counterintuitive instructions from the family therapist. By introducing these types of instructions, the clients are placed in a situation that is not resolved by means of logic, sometimes called a double bind (Bateson et al. 1963). The couple or family is forced to change their ways of understanding. This is often referred to as second-order change, which will be discussed in more detail later in this article.

Theoretical Framework

Gregory Bateson, Jay Haley, Don Jackson, John Weakland, and others within the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, helped transform the nature of family work by...

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

References

  1. Ascher, L. M., & Efran, J. (1978). Use of paradoxical intervention in a behavioral program for sleep onset insomnia. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 46, 547–550.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an ecology of mind. New York: Ballentine.Google Scholar
  3. Bateson, G., Jackson, D., Haley, J., & Weakland, J. H. (1963). A note on the double bind – 1962. Family Process, 2, 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown, J. E., & Slee, P. T. (1986). Paradoxical strategies: The ethics of intervention. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 17, 487–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cook, J. M., Biyanova, T., Elhai, J., Schnurr, P. P., & Coyne, J. C. (2010). What do psychotherapists really do in practice? An internet study of over 2,000 practitioners. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 47(2), 260–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cullin, J. (2014). On learning and teaching family therapy. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 34, 352–369.  https://doi.org/10.1002/anzf.1037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Evans, T. D. (1989). Brief therapy: The tradition of individual psychology compared to MRI. Individual Psychology, 45, 48–56.Google Scholar
  8. Fisch, R., & Schlanger, K. (1999). Brief therapy with intimidating cases: Changing the unchangeable. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  9. Fisch, R., Weakland, J. H., Watzlawick, P., & Segal, L. (1982). The tactics of change: Doing therapy briefly. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  10. Foreman, D. (1990). The ethical use of paradoxical interventions in psychotherapy. Journal of Medical Ethics, 16(4), 200–205.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Goldenberg, I., Stanton, M., & Goldernberg, H. (2017). Family therapy: An overview (9th ed.). Boston: Cengage.Google Scholar
  12. Haley, J. (1963). Strategies of psychotherapy. New York: Grune and Stratton.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Haley, J. (1973). Uncommon therapy: The psychiatric techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  14. Haley, J. (1976). Problem solving therapy. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  15. Haley, J. (Ed.). (1985). Conversations with Milton H. Erickson, M.D.: Vol. 1: Changing individuals. New York: Triangle Press.Google Scholar
  16. Hunsley, J. (1988). Conceptions and misconceptions about the context of paradoxical therapy. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 19, 553–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mozdzierz, G. J., Macchitelli, F. J., & Lisiecki, J. (1976). The paradox in psychotherapy: An Adlerian perspective. Journal of Individual Psychology, 32, 169–184.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Mozdzierz, G. J., Peluso, P. R., & Lisiecki, J. (2010). Evidence-based psychological practices and therapist training. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 51(4), 439–464.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0022167810386959.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Segal, L., & Kahn, J. (1986). Brief family therapy. Individual Psychology: The Journal of Adlerian Theory, Research and Practice, 42(4), 545–555.Google Scholar
  20. Tennen, H., & Affleck, G. (1991). Paradox-based treatments. In C. R. Snyder & D. R. Forsyth (Eds.), Handbook of social and clinical psychology: The health perspective (pp. 624–643). Elmsford: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  21. Watzlawick, P. (2010). The use of behavior prescriptions in psychotherapy. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 29(4), 35–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Watzlawick, P., Weakland, J. H., & Fisch, R. (1974). Change: Principles of problem formation and problem resolution. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  23. West, J., Main, F., & Zarski, J. (1997). The paradoxical prescription in individual psychology. In J. Carlson & S. Slavik (Eds.), Techniques in Adlerian psychology. Washington, DC: Accelerated Development.Google Scholar
  24. Zeig, J. K., & Lankton, S. R. (1988). Developing Ericksonian therapy: State of the art. Bristol: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

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