Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Extinction in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Nicole OrtizEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_82


Extinction is a behavioral technique that originated from principles of classical and operant conditioning. It is utilized in cognitive behavioral models of intervention for couple and families and is a major component of exposure therapy. It is utilized in order to reduce behaviors that have been reinforced by removing the agent that is reinforcing it.

Description of the Strategy or Intervention

This process occurs when a conditioned stimulus (CS) that was paired with an unconditioned stimulus (US) is presented on its own without the US (Lovibond 2004). This process occurs gradually and typically takes practice and multiple trails to complete. It is important to note that in the beginning of this process the undesirable behavior may increase, which is referred to as an extinction burst. Another potential temporary outcome of this process is spontaneous recovery, which involves extinction bursts that occur after an extended amount of time in which the undesirable behavior...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Psychology, California School of Professional PsychologyAlliant International UniversityLos AngelesUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Jay L. Lebow
    • 1
  1. 1.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA