Couple therapy with parents: Results from a pragmatic randomized controlled trial testing the Integrative Brief Systemic Intervention (IBSI)

J Marital Fam Ther. 2023 Apr;49(2):351-369. doi: 10.1111/jmft.12625. Epub 2022 Dec 21.


This study aimed to compare the effectiveness of the Integrative Brief Systemic Intervention (IBSI), combining therapeutic work on marital and coparenting relationships with brief systemic therapy (BST-as-usual) for parent couples. Couples were randomly assigned to the IBSI (n = 51) or BST (n = 50). Both treatments were six-session interventions and lasted about 6 months. Questionnaires on individual, marital, coparenting and family-related functioning were completed before and after therapy, and at 6-month follow-up. A significant improvement in all areas of functioning was observed after treatment and maintained at follow-up for both IBSI and BST-as-usual treatments. No significant differences in outcomes were found between the treatments. Additionally, women reported more distress overall than men, and this distress was reduced more significantly after therapy. Last, BST-as-usual couples requested more additional sessions compared to IBSI couples. This study extends the literature on couple therapy with parents.

Keywords: coparenting; couple therapy; marital; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Pragmatic Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Couples Therapy* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Parents*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires