Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Controlling Sessions in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Agnes JosEmail author
  • Jessica L. Chou
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_560


Control refers to guiding the therapeutic process as opposed to the control of individuals, couples, or families (Leader 1983). The therapeutic process can include the structure of therapy, continuous assessment, and collaborative goals. Control begins at initial contact and continues through termination.

Theoretical Context for Concept

Methods for guiding the therapeutic process extend across multiple theoretical formulations and can be contextualized using the common factors approach. The common factors approach posits that change in couple and family therapy can occur via certain variables despite theoretical orientation (Sprenkle et al. 2009). Four elements that are distinctive in couple and family therapy that must be considered when controlling sessions are: (1) viewing conflict in relational terms, (2) broadening the system of treatment, (3) interrupting problematic relational patterns, and (4) widening the scope of the therapeutic alliance (Sprenkle et al. 2009)....

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  1. Gurman, A. S. (2008). A framework for the comparative study of couple therapy: History, models, and applications. In A. S. Gurman (Ed.), Clinical handbook of couple therapy (4th ed., pp. 1–26). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  2. Leader, A. (1983). Therapeutic control in family therapy. Human Sciences Press, 11(4), 315–361.Google Scholar
  3. Sprenkle, D. H., Davis, S. D., & Lebow, J. L. (2009). Common factors in couple and family therapy: The overlooked foundation for effective practice. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Community Treatment, Inc. (COMTREA)Comprehensive Health CenterSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Queen of Peace CenterSt. LouisUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Rachel Diamond
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Saint JosephWest HarfordUSA