Observed communication in couples two years after integrative and traditional behavioral couple therapy: Outcome and link with five-year follow-up

Katherine J.W. Baucom, Mia Sevier, Kathleen A. Eldridge, Brian D. Doss, Andrew Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


To examine changes in observed communication after therapy termination in distressed couples from a randomized clinical trial. A total of 134 distressed couples were randomly assigned to either traditional behavioral couple therapy (TBCT; Jacobson & Margolin, 1979) or integrative behavioral couple therapy (IBCT; Jacobson & Christensen, 1998). Videotaped samples of each couple's interactions were coded from pre-therapy, post-therapy, and 2-year follow-up assessments. At these 3 time points, each partner chose 1 current relationship problem to discuss. Relationship satisfaction was assessed at 2-year follow-up, and clinically significant treatment response and marital status were assessed 5 years after treatment. Observed negativity and withdrawal decreased from therapy termination through the 2-year follow-up as expected, but problem solving did not change, and observed positivity decreased. IBCT produced superior changes from post-therapy to the 2-year follow-up assessment compared with TBCT. Post-therapy levels and changes in communication over follow-up were associated with wife satisfaction at 2-year follow-up; only post-therapy to 2-year follow-up changes in communication were associated with husband satisfaction at 2-year follow-up. Post-therapy levels of problem solving and changes in wives' positivity from pre-therapy to post-therapy were associated with 5-year relationship outcomes. We found some counterintuitive results with positivity, but they were no longer significant after controlling for withdrawal. We found support for improvements in observed communication following treatment termination, with IBCT demonstrating greater maintenance of communication improvement over follow-up. We found limited evidence of associations between communication and relationship outcomes at 5-year follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-576
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • behavioral couple therapy
  • couple communication
  • long-term treatment response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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