According to a new study conducted at Ryerson University, individuals suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can experience a significant improvement in symptoms with the addition of couple therapy.
Post traumatic stress disorder is marked by a number of symptoms including panic attacks, insomnia, memory problems and hyperarousal. Additionally, a diagnosis of PTSD is accompanied by mental and emotional symptoms including emotional avoidance, depression and social anxiety.
By examining these symptoms, it is clear to see that a diagnosis of PTSD will have a significant impact on social relationships and can cause difficulties within intimate relationships. These relationships have previously been found to have a marked impact on the recovery or deterioration of the individual.
This latest research recruited 40 couples, one of whom had been clinically diagnosed with PTSD, they couples were closely monitored for a period of four years between 2008 and 2012. The individual suffering from PTSD was instructed to continue with any medications and all non-PTSD psychotherapy. Each couple was randomly allocated to either the Cognitive-Behavioural Conjoint Therapy for PTSD (CBCT), a new couple treatment developed by Dr. Monson and Dr. Fredman, or were assigned to a wait-list control group.
In total, the therapy for each couple lasted for three months; the CBCT was divided into three phases. For the first two parts, the couples met with a therapist twice each week. This was cut down to once a week in the final stage.
All of the participants were assessed prior to the intervention, half way through and post treatment. The couples that were assigned to the CBCT group were tested three months after the therapy sessions had all been completed.
The results of the study were extremely promising. More than 80 percent of the individuals, who took part in the couple therapy, reported a significant reduction in their symptoms of PTSD. In addition to this, over 60 percent of the couples reported a marked improvement in their relationships. These improvement s were shown to be sustained at the three month follow up point. In particular, individuals reported significantly fewer symptoms of depression, anger and anxiety, all of which have previously been highlighted as the source of relationship difficulties in individuals with PTSD.