Emotionally focused couple therapy within VA healthcare: Reductions in relationship distress, PTSD, and depressive symptoms as a function of attachment-based couple treatment
Ganz, M. B., Rasmussen, H. F., McDougall, T. V., Corner, G. W., Black, T. T., & De Los Santos, H. F. (2022). Emotionally focused couple therapy within VA healthcare: Reductions in relationship distress, PTSD, and depressive symptoms as a function of attachment-based couple treatment. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 11(1), 15–32. https://doi.org/10.1037/cfp0000210
Abstract Created by REACH:
This study examined the impact of emotionally focused couple therapy (EFT) on mental health symptoms and relationship satisfaction of Veterans and their partners. Before and upon completing EFT (i.e., 15 sessions on average), 29 couples (58 individuals) completed questionnaires on their depressive symptoms, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and relationship satisfaction. 53% of the couples had clinically high relationship distress before EFT. Overall, EFT appeared to improve mental health and relationship satisfaction, especially if couples indicated more severe PTSD symptoms, depressive symptoms, and relationship distress prior to treatment.
Branch of Service:
Spouse of service member or veteran
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)
Ganz, Michael B., Rasmussen, Hannah F., McDougall, Tatiana V., Corner, Geoffrey W., Black, Tabitha T., De Los Santos, Hector F.
Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT) is a well-established, attachment-based treatment for relationship distress. This study seeks to further previous research by examining the impact of EFT on veterans’ and their partners’ symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and relationship distress, in a real-life clinical setting. The present study uses dyadic data analyses to test three hypotheses: from pre to posttherapy veterans and their partners would report (a) increases in relationship satisfaction and decreases in (b) PTSD and (c) depression symptoms. In addition, we tested whether diagnostic status at the start of therapy, that is, meeting clinical criteria for that outcome, moderated the changes. Data were collected as part of routine care at an outpatient clinic at a Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital. The sample consisted of 29 couples. Pre and postmeasures were obtained at the first and final sessions (Msessions = 15.52 SD = 7.19). Multilevel models examining changes across time for all partners found that the difference between pre and posttherapy scores for relationship satisfaction (b = 10.85, p b = −1.61, p b = 13.93, p b = −12.39, p b = −7.64, p < .001). Although PTSD and depression are not the focus of treatment, results indicate EFT is effective at reducing relationship distress and individual symptomatology in veterans and their partners.
American Psychological Association
Psychology Service, VA Long Beach Health Care System, MBG
Psychology Service, VA Long Beach Health Care System, TVM
Psychology Service, VA Long Beach Health Care System, HFDLS
Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, HFR
Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, GWC
Psychology Service, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, GWC
Department of Psychology, Alliant International University, TTB
ptsd, emotionally focused couple therapy, attachment
REACH Publication Type:
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program DGE-1418060 (Hannah F.
Rasmussen) and DGE-1418060 (Geoffrey W. Corner).