Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Scaling Questions in Couple and Family Therapy

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-15877-8_1065-1

Name of Concept

Scaling Question in Couple and Family Therapy


Scaling question is an intervention used to assess clients’ progress toward their goals. It is intended to make a complex concept concrete and clear. The evaluation outcome can further guide the treatment by adjusting the behavior modification plan. The ongoing scaling process encourages and motivates the couples and families to eventually achieve their final therapeutic goals.

Theoretical Context for Concept

The application of the scaling question technique has been documented for different treatment purposes in various clinical settings (Caldwell and Stone 2016; Charlés 2010), and it is one of the techniques used within solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT). SFBT differs from the traditional treatment models by immediately and actively assisting the couples and families in finding the solutions to their presenting issues (Trepper et al. 2010). SFBT focuses on what is working and refrains from asking questions...

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  1. Caldwell, B. E., & Stone, D. J. (2016). Using scaling to facilitate ethical decision-making in family therapy. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 44(4), 198–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Charlés, L. L. (2010). Family therapists as front line mental health providers in war-affected regions: Using reflecting teams, scaling questions, and family members in a hospital in Central Africa. Journal of Family Therapy, 32(1), 27–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. de Shazer, S. (1985). Keys to solution in brief therapy. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  4. de Shazer, S., Berg, I. K., Lipchik, E., Nunnall, E., Molnar, A., Gingerich, W., & Weiner-Davis, M. (1986). Brief therapy: Focused solution development. Family Process, 25(2), 207–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Trepper, T. S., McCollum, E. E., de Jong, P., Korman, H., Gingerich, W., & Franklin, C. (2010). Solution focused therapy treatment manual for working with individuals. Research Committee of the Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association. Retrieved from https://www.andrews.edu/sed/gpc/faulty-research/coffen-research/trepper_2010_solution.pdf

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Counseling DepartmentThe Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Margarita Tarragona
    • 1
  • Bahareh Sahebi
    • 2
  1. 1.PositivaMente & Grupo Campos ElíseosMexico CityMexico
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA