Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Pretend Technique in Couple and Family Therapy

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-15877-8_323-1

Name of the Strategy or Intervention

Pretend Technique in Couple and Family Therapy



Family therapists help to alter problematic interactions within families. Over time, family members’ styles of interacting can become entrenched; this may leave the family feeling stuck and hopeless. The pretend technique, developed by Cloe Madanes (1980), provides a creative clinical intervention for family therapists. By utilizing the pretend technique, therapists help shift the family system in ways that can reduce individual symptoms and transform the problematic family interactions.

Theoretical Framework (e.g., “This Is Utilized Most in X Models and Y Theories”)

The pretend technique stems primarily from structural and strategic origins, where altering the presenting problem occurs through modifying the interactions between family members. The focus of strategic family therapy is to break the cycle of families through...

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  1. Madanes, C. (1980). Protection, paradox, and pretending. Family Therapy Process, 19, 73–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Madanes, C. (1981). Strategic family therapy. San Francisco: Josey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. Piercy, F. P., Sprenkle, D. H., Wetchler, J. L., and associates. (1996). Family therapy sourcebook (2nd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mercer University School of MedicineMaconUSA

Section editors and affiliations

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