Techniques of Relationship Contracting
In addition to utilizing cognitive interventions with couples, therapists will want to help couples focus specifi cally on making behavioral changes in their relationship. In clinical practice, cognitive and behavioral interventions are often paired together when working with couples (Baucom et al., 2008; Dattilio, 2010). Behavioral therapy, by defi nition, focuses specifi cally on the couple’s behaviors. Jacobsen and Margolin (1979) produced perhaps the most comprehensive text on behavioral couple therapy (BCT). BCT is grounded in Thibaut and Kelley’s (1959) social exchange theory. This theory asserts that satisfaction in a relationship is connected to the ratio of benefi ts and costs partners experience in the relationship (Nichols, 2010). The higher the ratio, the more satisfi ed partners will be. One of the primary purposes of BCT is to increase the ratio of positive interactions to negative interactions. Behavioral couple therapy has been evaluated in many controlled outcome studies with results that have generally supported its effectiveness (Gordon and Christman, 2008; Jacobson, Follette, & Pagel, 1986).