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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 59

of 'Family and couples therapy for treating depressed adults'

Mechanisms of change in brief couple therapy for depression.
Cohen S, Daniel O'Leary K, Foran HM, Kliem S
Behav Ther. 2014 May;45(3):402-17. Epub 2014 Jan 17.
The goal of the present study was to investigate potential mechanisms of previously documented treatment effects for a brief, 5-session, problem-focused couple therapy for depression in a sample of 35 depressed women and their nondepressed husbands. The primary treatment effects were reducing women's depressive symptoms and their husbands' psychological distress and depression-specific burden. Secondarily, treatment resulted in increased relationship satisfaction for both partners. Given these significant treatment changes observed in 5 sessions, we sought to examine the mechanisms of change by testing the following three factors as potential mediators: (a) negative behaviors and attitudes toward depression, (b) support provision, and (c) empathic communication towards the depressed female partners. Women's depression and husbands' depression-specific burden were alleviated by positive changes in their illness-related attitudes and behaviors. Improvements in women's marital satisfaction were also mediated by positive change in their illness-related attitudes and behaviors, along with perceptions of increased positivity and support from their husbands. Findings highlight the importance of targeting specific treatment agents in a brief couple therapy for depression such as psychoeducation about depression and support-building to increase partners' understanding and acceptance of the illness, and teaching communication skills to reduce negative behaviors and criticism that are replaced by more empathic communication towards the depressed individual.
Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital. Electronic address: scohen17@mgh.harvard.edu.