Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Boundary Making in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Lisa ScottEmail author
  • Alexander Julian
  • Chunyue Tu
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-15877-8_313-1

Name of the Strategy or Intervention

Boundary Making in Couple and Family Therapy


Boundaries are an inherent part of all families and couples. Boundaries determine which roles individuals and family subsystems (e.g., children or parents) play, expectations of each party, and responsibilities of family members. Boundaries can be classified as diffuse, clear, or rigid. For practitioners adhering to a systems theory approach, the goal in therapy is to help clients form clear boundaries that are not too diffuse or too rigid. The more a family or a couple strays from having clear boundaries, the more likely they are to experience dysfunction (Wetchler and Hecker 2015).

Theoretical Framework

According to Minuchin (1974), boundary making is the “basic principle” in systems theory and therefore crucial in the formation of healthy family systems. Within a family system, each subsystem (e.g., the marital subsystem or the child subsystem) has set boundaries that create separation...


Child Subsystem Wetchler Family Systems Theory Emotion-focused Therapy Minuchin 
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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • David Kearns
    • 1
  • Bahareh Sahebi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA