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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A communication skills training component in an emotionally focused couples therapy James, Paul S.


The purpose of this constructive outcome study was two-fold: first, to investigate the effectiveness of two treatments, an Emotionally Focused couples therapy (EFT) and an Emotionally Focused therapy plus a communication skills training component (EFT+CT), compared to a wait-list control group; second, to investigate whether or not the addition of a communication skills training component (CT) would enhance the effectiveness of an Emotionally Focused couples therapy (EFT). Forty-two moderately distressed volunteer couples were assigned randomly to one of two treatment conditions or to a wait-list control group. Couples in the EFT condition received 12 one-hour sessions; couples in the EFT+CT condition received eight hours of EFT and four hours of CT. Treatments were administered by 14 therapists, seven of whom were nested in each condition by random assignment. Ratings of therapists' interventions confirmed the treatment integrity of EFT in both treatment conditions and the treatment integrity of the CT component in the EFT + CT condition. Tests of equivalence showed that both treatment conditions were equivalent on pre-test levels of the dependent variables, demographic variables, therapist characteristics, and the quality of couples' working alliance with their therapists. The first hypothesis was supported for certain outcomes but not for all. Both treatments achieved superior gains at post-test compared to the wait-list control group on a global measure of marital adjustment and a measure of target complaint improvement. The EFT+CT group also achieved superior gains at post-test on a measure of communication compared to the wait-list control. Although there were trends toward both treatments achieving superior gains on measures of intimacy and passionate love at post-test compared to the wait-list control, these measures failed to reach significance. Results indicated that the second hypothesis was not supported. There were no significant differences between EFT and EFT + CT at the post-test or four-month follow-up on a summary measure of marital adjustment or its four components (i.e., consensus, affectional expression, cohesion, satisfaction), nor on measures of communication, intimacy, and passionate love. The only significant difference was that the EFT condition maintained its gains in target complaint improvement at the four-month follow-up more effectively than the EFT+CT condition did.

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