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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Systemically and emotionally-focused marital therapies : a comparative outcome study Goldman, Audrey A.


The present study compares the effectiveness of two interventions in the treatment of marital discord: a sequentially integrated systemic intervention focusing on reframing interactional patterns and an emotionally focused intervention, focusing on accessing emotional experiences underlying interaction patterns. Forty-two couples seeking therapy were randomly assigned to one of these treatments or to a wait-list control group. Each treatment was administered in ten weekly sessions by seven experienced therapists. Through an implementation check it was determined that the treatments had been implemented in accordance with the treatment manuals. Tests of equivalence showed that the groups were equivalent on pre-test levels, demographic variables and in the strength of their working alliance with their therapists. Post-test results indicated that both treatment groups made significant gains compared to untreated controls on measures of marital adjustment, conflict resolution, target complaint reduction and goal attainment, but that neither treatment group gained significantly more than the other. At follow-up, a further 16 weeks later, post-test levels on all measures were maintained by the sequentially integrated systemic group. The emotionally-focused group maintained levels on conflict resolution, and continued to achieve target complaint improvement but slipped back on pre-test goals and relapsed on marital adjustment. Results suggest that two very different treatments, one of which had not been tested before, are both effective in helping couples alleviate marital distress, but that the sequentially integrated systemic therapy is more self-sustaining.

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