Couples Therapy Helps PTSD
People being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) do better if they have couples therapy with a partner, according to a new study.
“Although there are effective individual psychotherapies for the symptoms of PTSD, there is minimal evidence to show that these therapies improve intimate relationships, lead author Candice Monson, of Ryerson University in Toronto, said in a statement.
PTSD, a type of severe anxiety disorder that affects people after a traumatic event, affects an estimated 6.8 million people in the U.S., and one in ten Canadians.
The four-year study, in which Monson collaborated with researchers from Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as experts from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. All of the 40 couples participating had one partner with PTSD.
Half the group underwent Cognitive-Behavioral Couples Therapy (CBCT), while the other half were put on the waiting list for CBCT and underwent no treatment.
Eighty-one percent of those who had CBCT reported noticeable improvement in PTSD symptoms. Sixty-two percent reported that relations with their partners had gotten better. The subjects whose symptoms had improved reported that they were still benefiting from the treatment three months after it ended.
Further research is needed to compare couples treatment with individual treatment for PTSD. A current study is being funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. Recognizing the fact that a noticeable percentage of military personnel and veterans report PTSD symptoms, the Defense Department is also training Army and Air Force physicians in CBCT techniques.