Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Tasks in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Rachel L. HughesEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_570

Name of Concept

Tasks in Couple and Family Therapy


Objectives; Working alliance


After collaborating with the clients to create the goals of therapy, therapists guide clients through completing tasks; tasks are the stepping stones to accomplishing short-term goals (Bordin 1979; Horvath 2006). Tasks vary dramatically between theoretical orientations by where clients are directed to turn their attention (e.g., internally or on actions; Bordin 1979).

Theoretical Context for Concept

Therapists derive the tasks for therapy based on their conceptualization of the client’s problem using their theory of change (Sprenkle et al. 2009). For example, if a couple comes to therapy to reduce the level of conflict in the relationship, an emotionally focused therapist may see the constant bickering as a sign that each partner’s primary emotions are not being validated. The therapist may then facilitate a vulnerable conversation where each partner explores previously unacknowledged...

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  3. Horvath, A. O. (2006). The alliance in context: Accomplishments, challenges, and future directions. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 43(3), 258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 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.Saint Louis UniversitySaint LouisUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Sean Davis
    • 1
  1. 1.California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International UniversitySacramentoUSA