An Interactional Approach to Dysfunctional Silencing in Family Therapy

Douglas C. Breunlin*, Pam Southgate

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents an interactional approach to the problem of dysfunctional silencing in family therapy. Silencing is classified as dysfunctional if it satisfies two conditions: (a) it occurs repeatedly and independently of content, and (b) it functions as negative feedback that limits change in the family system. Dysfunctional silencing is defined as those efforts of one or more family members to limit change by repeatedly blocking the communication of another family member, who in turn colludes by tacitly agreeing to remain silent. The interactional approach presented utilizes conflict‐resolution techniques and videotape feedback; it is illustrated by a case example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-216
Number of pages10
JournalFamily process
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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