Childhood abuse can have a significant and lasting impact on an individual's mental health and relationships, including their ability to trust, communicate, and form healthy attachments. While the greater literature focuses on individual interventions to address childhood trauma, there is limited research on the potential positive impact of a couple-based therapeutic approach on outcomes of individual mental health and relationship distress. This dissertation sought to summarize empirically researched couples-based psychotherapies designed to address the effects of childhood abuse and review evidence regarding therapeutic outcomes. The dissertation implemented the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) to ensure a high-quality systematic review. The systematic review includes empirical peer-reviewed quantitative research, researcher extraction of data from articles that met criteria, and narrative synthesis of results. Results highlighted that couples-based therapies show promise to reduce symptoms of depression and PTSD, while also effectively improving relationship quality. This dissertation provides a valuable contribution to clinical literature and expands treatment options to address the negative impact of childhood abuse.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Child abuse; Adult child abuse victims; Couples therapy; Relationship quality; Psychotherapy

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Kathleen Eldridge

Included in

Psychology Commons