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Keywords:

  • Couple Therapy;
  • Marriage Counseling;
  • Treatment Effectiveness;
  • Clinical Representativeness;
  • Effect Size

The clinical representativeness of outcome studies is defined as the generalizability of recruitment processes, assessment/diagnostic procedures, treatment protocols, and therapeutic results from research settings to naturalistic treatment settings. The main goal of the present study was to examine the clinical representativeness of couple therapy in outcome studies. The data set was formed by 50 published clinical trials, including 34 couple therapy outcome studies for marital distress (CTMD) and 16 couple therapy outcome studies for comorbid relational and mental disorders (CTMD+C). The present findings showed that, overall, the clinical representativeness of couple therapy outcome studies is only fair (i.e., the mean global score is slightly lower than the midpoint of the rating scale used to assess representativeness). CTMD+C studies fared better than CTMD studies on many dimensions of clinical relevance. Studies in which pretherapy training was less intensive (for CTMD studies only), treatment was less structured, and therapists were more experienced showed larger effect sizes than those in which such was not the case.