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Long-term effectiveness of treatment-as-usual couple therapy for military veterans

APA Citation:

Nowlan, K. M., Georgia, E. J., & Doss, B. D. (2017). Long-term effectiveness of treatment-as-usual couple therapy for military veterans. Behavior Therapy, 48(6), 847-859. doi:10.1016/j.beth.2017.05.007

Abstract Created by REACH:

Veterans often face relationship problems that may be partially due to their military experiences (e.g., combat exposure); however, little is known about the long-term effect of couples therapy on Veterans. This study included 238 participants from 125 couples (at least one partner of each couple was a Veteran). Each participant completed questionnaires regarding relationship satisfaction, intimate partner violence (IPV), and psychological symptoms before and 18 months after couples therapy. Results indicated positive effects of couples therapy on Veterans.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Subject Affiliation:

Spouse of service member or veteran


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)


Empirical Study
Followup Study
Quantitative Study


Nowlan, Kathryn M., Georgia, Emily J., Doss, Brian D.


Despite the fact that veterans face increased psychological and relationship distress as a result of their service-related experiences, no study to date has explored the long-term effectiveness of couple therapy for veterans. In the present investigation, 238 individuals (113 couples and 12 additional individuals) completed assessments 18 months after termination of treatment-as-usual couple therapy at two Veteran Administration Medical Centers. From pretreatment to 18-month follow-up, couples experienced significant increases in relationship satisfaction (d = 0.59) and significant decreases in both psychological distress (d = -0.31) and presence of intimate partner violence (d = -0.47). Overall, pretreatment demographic, psychological, and relationship characteristics did not significantly moderate maintenance of gains across 18 months. However, African American individuals (d = -0.58) and individuals not reporting intimate partner violence at pretreatment (d = -0.46) experienced smaller improvements in relationship satisfaction through 18-month follow-up. Further, older participants showed smaller reductions in psychological symptoms 18 months after treatment (d = 0.16). Thus, for many veterans and their spouses, treatment-as-usual couple therapy is effective at intervening in psychological and relationship distress long-term. Moreover, the long-term effectiveness of couple therapy with veterans appears to generalize across many demographic, intrapersonal, and interpersonal factors.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Elsevier Science

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

University of Miami, KMN
University of Miami, EJG
University of Miami, BDD


veterans, mental health, relationship satisfaction, violence, couples therapy

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

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