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A comparative treatment study of experiential and behavioral approaches to marital therapy Johnson, Susan Maureen


The present study compared the relative effectiveness of two interventions in the treatment of marital discord, a cognitive behavioral intervention, teaching problem solving skills, and an experiential intervention, focussing on emotional experiences underlying interaction patterns. Forty-five couples seeking therapy were randomly assigned to one of these two treatments or a wait list control group. Each treatment was administered in eight sessions by six experienced therapists whose interventions were monitored and rated to ensure treatment fidelity. Results indicated that the perceived strength of the working alliance between couples and therapist and general therapist effectiveness were equivalent across treatment groups, and that both treatment groups made significant gains over untreated controls on measures of goal attainment, marital adjustment, intimacy levels and target complaint reduction. Further, the effects of the experiential treatment were superior to those of the cognitive behavioral treatment on marital adjustment, intimacy, and target complaint level. At follow-up, marital adjustment scores in the experiential group were still significantly higher than in the cognitive behavioral group.

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