Cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder: application to a couple's shared traumatic experience

J Clin Psychol. 2012 May;68(5):536-47. doi: 10.1002/jclp.21850.


Cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (CBCT for PTSD) is designed to improve PTSD symptoms and enhance intimate relationship adjustment. Phase 1 includes psychoeducation about the reciprocal influences of PTSD symptoms and relationship functioning, exercises to promote positive affect and behaviors, and conflict management skills. In Phase 2, behavioral methods are used to address avoidance and emotional numbing and to increase relationship satisfaction. Couples engage in activities to promote approaching, rather than avoiding, feared situations. Phase 3 focuses on specific trauma appraisals and here-and-now cognitions that maintain PTSD and relationship problems. This article provides an overview of the treatment, a review of the outcome research, and a case illustration of a couple with a shared trauma (a stillborn child).

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Communication
  • Comorbidity
  • Couples Therapy / methods*
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Marital Therapy / methods*
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Pregnancy / psychology
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Stillbirth / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*