Skip to main content

Values in Couple and Family Therapy

  • 242 Accesses


Ethics; Morals


It has generally been agreed among couple and family therapists that therapy cannot be value-free. Simply by serving in the position of a couple or family therapist, one agrees to abide by the legal and ethical standards of the profession, which are reflective of a particular value set. The personal values of the clients or the therapist may create difficulty in session if they do not fully align with the values of the profession or with each other. Recent debate has focused on the degree to which therapists’ personal values can impact therapy.

Theoretical Context

There are values common to the field of couple and family therapy and then additional values specific to the model of therapy being used in a particular case. Consistent across the profession are the general values of autonomy (client self-determination), beneficence (actively doing good), nonmaleficence (avoiding harm), justice (treating all people fairly), fidelity (upholding...


  • Family Therapy
  • Value-laden Choices
  • Client Self-determination
  • External Guidelines
  • Professional Values

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Beauchamp, T. L., & Childress, J. F. (2013). Principles of biomedical ethics (7th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Caldwell, B. E. (2013). September/October). Whose conscience matters? Family Therapy Magazine, 12(5), 20–27.

    Google Scholar 

  • Caldwell, B. E., & Stone, D. J. (2016). Using scaling to facilitate ethical decision-making in family therapy. American Journal of Family Therapy, 44(4), 198–210.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Doherty, W. J. (1995). Soul searching: Why psychotherapy must promote moral responsibility. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Benjamin E. Caldwell .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Section Editor information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2016 Springer International Publishing AG

About this entry

Cite this entry

Caldwell, B.E., Woolley, S.R., Ro, HS. (2016). Values in Couple and Family Therapy. In: Lebow, J., Chambers, A., Breunlin, D. (eds) Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-15877-8

  • eBook Packages: Springer Reference Behavioral Science and PsychologyReference Module Humanities and Social Sciences