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Couples therapy helps reduce PTSD symptoms and increase relationship satisfaction

August 21, 2012
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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According to a report by the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was found that couples therapy significantly improved symptoms of PTSD and satisfaction in the patients’ intimate relationships.

The study gathered 40 heterosexual and same-sex couples in which one partner had met the criteria for PTSD according to the Clinician-Administered PTSD scale.  The scale was “conducted from 2008 to 2012 in a Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient hospital setting in Boston, Massachusetts, and a university-based research center in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.”

The couples were randomly placed into two different groups, one being cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for PTSD, and the other being a wait-list condition.  The first group went through 15 sessions of the manualized form of couples therapy that is used for patients that suffer from PTSD and their significant other to treat PTSD symptoms at the same time as improve relationship satisfaction.

The results that were collected included symptoms of PTSD, comorbid conditions, and relationship satisfaction.  These were counted by blinded assessors at the beginning of the trial, mid treatment, post treatment.  Results were also collected at a 3-month uncontrolled follow up.

It was concluded that for couples such as the ones studied, in which one partner was diagnosed as having PTSD, a disorder-specific therapy was much more beneficial than a wait list for the therapy, in terms of PTSD symptoms, patient comorbid symptom severity and relationship satisfaction.