A closer examination of relational outcomes from a pilot study of abbreviated, intensive, multi-couple group cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for PTSD with military dyads

Fredman, S. J., Le, Y., Macdonald, A., Monson, C. M., Rhoades, G. K., Dondanville, K. A., Blount, T. H., Hall-Clark, B. N., Fina, B. A., Mintz, J., Litz, B. T., Young-McCaughan, S., Jenkins, A. I. C., Yarvis, J. S., Keane, T. M., & Peterson, A. L., for the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD
Apr 20, 2021

Family Process, 60(3), 712–726.

Cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (CBCT for PTSD) is associated with improvements in patients’ PTSD symptoms, partners’ psychological distress, and relationship satisfaction. However, little is known about whether CBCT for PTSD is associated with changes in other relationship domains that have theoretical and clinical relevance to the relational context of PTSD. The current study is a secondary analysis of relational outcomes from an uncontrolled, within-group trial designed to examine whether an abbreviated, intensive, multi-couple group version of CBCT for PTSD (AIM-CBCT for PTSD) delivered in a retreat during a single weekend was associated with improvements in PTSD symptoms and relationship satisfaction. In this investigation, we examined whether AIM-CBCT for PTSD is also associated with improvements in ineffective arguing, supportive dyadic coping by partner, joint dyadic coping, and partners’ accommodation of patients’ PTSD symptoms. Participants were 24 couples who included a post-9/11 U.S. service member or veteran with PTSD. At 1- and 3-month follow-up, patients reported significant reductions in couples’ ineffective arguing ( ds = -.71 and -.78, respectively) and increases in supportive dyadic coping by partners relative to baseline ( ds = .50 and .44, respectively). By 3-month follow-up, patients also reported significant increases in couples’ joint dyadic coping ( d = .57), and partners reported significant reductions in their accommodation of patients’ PTSD symptoms ( d = -.44). Findings suggest that AIM-CBCT for PTSD is associated with improvements in multiple relationship domains beyond relationship satisfaction but that these may be differentially salient for patients and partners.