Couple Therapy: Theoretical Perspectives and Empirical Findings

Donald H. Baucom, Norman B. Epstein, Jennifer S. Kirby and Mariana K. Falconier

in The Oxford Handbook of Clinical Psychology

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195366884
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Couple Therapy: Theoretical Perspectives and Empirical Findings


Whereas most couples enter into marriage or similar committed, romantic relationships with the full expectation that they will live their lives together in a happy and rewarding manner, the divorce rate in the United States and many Western countries continues to be alarmingly high—in the United States hovering around 50%. As a result, mental health practitioners have focused energy on ways to alleviate relationship distress. Many approaches for assisting distressed couples have been developed, yet few have been evaluated to demonstrate that they actually help couples. The current chapter provides an overview of the major models of couple therapy that have been evaluated in well-controlled research studies and have demonstrated that they benefit couples. The models included are: behavioral couple therapy, cognitive-behavioral couple therapy, integrative behavioral couple therapy, emotionally focused couple therapy, and insight-oriented couple therapy. For each model, the theoretical approach, overall interventions, and effectiveness are discussed.

Keywords: Cognitive-behavioral therapy; couple therapy; marriage; relationship distress

Article.  15249 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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