Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Reciprocity in Couples and Families

  • Shruti Singh PoulsenEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_304

Name of Concept

Reciprocity in couples and families.


Cooperation; Give-and-take; Mutuality; Quid pro quo


Reciprocity reflects couple and family interactional patterns of recursiveness and complementarity. Reciprocity is a systemic pattern that allows us to see people and events in the context of mutual interaction and mutual influence (Becvar and Becvar 2013). Reciprocity in couples and families is a concept describing individuals’ decision-making processes about their behavior towards and between each other. The underlying assumption of reciprocity is that the parts of the system, depending on the relationship, roles, rules, structure, and organization of the system, will engage with one another in accordance with expectations of mutuality, fairness, and give-and-take.

Theoretical Context for Concept

While conceptual understanding of reciprocity can be found in the fields of behaviorism, law, economics, and business ethics, Contextual Family Therapy, Structural...

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  1. Becvar, D. S., & Becvar, R. J. (2013). Family therapy: A systematic integration. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  2. Boszormenyi-Nagy, I., & Krasner, B. R. (1986). Between give & take: A clinical guide to contextual therapy. New York: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Funk, L. M. (2012). ‘Returning the love’, not ‘balancing the books’: Talk about delayed reciprocity in supporting aging parents. Aging & Society, 32, 634–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Colorado DenverDenverUSA

Section editors and affiliations

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