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Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 361–387 | Cite as

The Efficacy of Behavioral Couples Therapy and Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couple Distress

  • Michael  Byrne
  • Alan Carr
  • Marie Clark
Article

Abstract

Twenty treatment outcome studies, 13 of which evaluated behavioral couples therapy (BCT) and seven of which evaluated emotionally focused therapy (EFT) were reviewed, leading to the following conclusions. BCT leads to short and long-term gains for moderate to severe couple distress. In the long term BCT probably leads to no better outcomes than its constituent components—behavioral exchange training and communication and problem solving skills training. Addition of a cognitive therapy component to BCT or the use of a variety of treatment formats does not improve the efficacy of BCT. Integrative couples therapy and insight-oriented marital therapy may be more effective than BCT, but studies supporting this conclusion require replication. EFT leads to short and long-term gains for mild to moderate couple distress. Addition of a cognitive therapy component to EFT does not enhance its efficacy. EFT may be more effective than problem solving therapy and less effective than integrated systemic therapy, but the two studies supporting this conclusion require replication.

Keywords

behavioral couple therapy emotionally focused therapy couple distress integrative couples therapy insight-oriented marital therapy 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Midland Health BoardIreland
  2. 2.Clinical Psychology Training Programme, Department of PsychologyUniversity College DublinBelfield, Dublin 4Ireland
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SurreyUnited Kingdom

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