Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 731–741 | Cite as

Behavioral Couples Treatment for Substance Use Disorder: Secondary Effects on the Reduction of Youth Internalizing Symptoms

  • Michelle L. KelleyEmail author
  • Adrian J. Bravo
  • Abby L. Braitman


This study examined the secondary effects of Behavioral Couples Treatment (BCT) for parents with substance use disorder on youth reports of internalizing symptoms (i.e., depressive and anxiety symptoms). Participants were 59 triads (father, mothers, and youth; 32 girls, 27 boys) in which one or both parents met criteria for drug or alcohol use disorder (or both). Mothers, fathers, and youth completed pretreatment, post-intervention, and 6-month post-intervention follow-up assessments. Two piecewise latent growth models examined whether number of sessions attended was associated with parents’ relationship satisfaction or its growth over time, and in turn if parents’ relationship satisfaction was uniquely associated with youth depressive/anxiety symptoms or their growth over time. A significant indirect effect at post-intervention revealed the number of sessions attended contributed to decreases in youth depressive symptoms via increases in mothers’ and fathers’ relationship satisfaction. Mothers’ relationship satisfaction uniquely mediated the relationship between number of sessions attended and youth depressive symptoms at post-intervention. With regards to fathers, there was a non-significant trend such that increases in sessions attended was associated with decreases in youth depressive symptoms post- intervention via increasing relationship satisfaction among fathers. Findings suggest that BCT may have protective secondary effects in reducing youth reports of depressive symptoms among couples in which one or both parents have substance use disorder.


Substance abuse treatment Relationship satisfaction Youth depressive symptoms Youth anxiety symptoms 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (R01 DA024740).

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study was approved by the institutional review board at the participating institution. All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Parents gave written consent for themselves and their children; youth gave verbal assent.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle L. Kelley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adrian J. Bravo
    • 1
  • Abby L. Braitman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA

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