Diana Olarte


The current study explores the central problems of couples entering treatment, and communication styles among couples in therapy, as well as the responsiveness of these issues and patterns to treatment. The examination is based on data collected from the Christensen et al. (2004) clinical trial, which examined a sample of 134 married couples randomly assigned to traditional or integrative behavioral couple therapy (TBCT vs. IBCT). This study examined a broad spectrum of variables measured at the end of treatment through therapist reports found on the Therapist and Consultant Post Treatment Questionnaire (major issues, communication styles, infidelity, and violence) and examined the distribution of frequencies of these variables across the treatment outcome categories (deteriorated, no change, improved, and recovered), at the end of treatment and 2-years following treatment termination. Therapist reports revealed poor communication, closeness/independence, responsibility and control issues, trust/jealousy, and sex as the top five issues for couples seeking treatment. Although none of these were related to treatment outcome, Infidelity was negatively associated with treatment outcome at 2-year follow-up but not at post-treatment. Results indicate that the issues of Finances and Few Positive Interactions may also be related to treatment outcome but small cell sizes warrant caution in interpreting these findings. Therapist reports also indicate that woman demand/man withdraw, mutual engagement/criticism, and mutual avoidance are the most salient communication patterns among couples in therapy. Of these patterns, only mutual avoidance was negatively correlated with treatment outcome at 2-year follow-up.In evaluating issues of infidelity and violence, results were consistent with prior studies regarding the nature of affairs and reports of violence. However, violence was not related to treatment outcome. Future research should continue to employ efforts to examine relationships among variables well into follow-up periods. Additional research implications and clinical recommendations are provided.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Psychology; Marital psychotherapy; Communication -- Psychological aspects; Psychotherapy -- Outcome assessment

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Eldridge, Kathleen;