Research on the Treatment of Couple Distress

Authors


  • Jay L. Lebow, PhD, and Anthony L. Chambers, PhD, The Family Institute and Center for Applied Psychological and Family Studies, Northwestern University; Andrew Christensen, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California at Los Angeles; Susan M. Johnson, PhD, School of Psychology, University of Ottawa.

  • The authors would like to express our sincere gratitude to the graduate students who helped in the preparation of this article including Aliza Kravitz, Patrick Tennant, Jillian Thomas, and Einav Zohar.

Address correspondence to Jay L. Lebow, The Family Institute and Center for Applied Psychological and Family Studies, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60201; E-mail: j-lebow@northwestern.edu

Abstract

This article reviews the research on couple therapy over the last decade. The research shows that couple therapy positively impacts 70% of couples receiving treatment. The effectiveness rates of couple therapy are comparable to the effectiveness rates of individual therapies and vastly superior to control groups not receiving treatment. The relationship between couple distress and individual disorders such as depression and anxiety has become well established over the past decade. Research also indicates that couple therapy clearly has an important role in the treatment of many disorders. Findings over the decade have been especially promising for integrative behavioral couples therapy and emotion-focused therapy, which are two evidence-based treatments for couples. Research has also begun to identify moderators and mediators of change in couple therapy. Finally, a new and exciting line of research has focused on delineating the principles of change in couple therapy that transcends approach.

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