Research on the treatment of couple distress

J Marital Fam Ther. 2012 Jan;38(1):145-68. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00249.x. Epub 2011 Sep 9.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Depression / therapy
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Marital Therapy / methods*
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Spouses / psychology*