Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can severely affect a person's life and relationships. A new study says that couples can deal with the stress of trauma better if they seek couple-based counseling. This new type of counseling not only helps patients suffering from PTSD but also helps them bond with their partners after a traumatic event.
According to estimates, more than 6 percent of all adults living in the U.S. have suffered from PTSD at some point in their lives.
“Given how PTSD affects and is affected by intimate relationships, it is important to think beyond the individual to provide the most efficient and effective outcomes possible. In this case, a single therapy holds promise of providing multiple positive outcomes to trauma survivors and their loved ones,” said lead author Dr. Candice Monson, professor at Ryerson University’s Department of Psychology in a news release.
The study involved approximately 40 couples in which one partner was diagnosed with PTSD. The couples were asked to refrain from any substance use and counseling sessions before the study began. The couples were then randomly assigned to two different groups. One group received cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for PTSD (CBCT) while the other was put on waiting-list for three months. The second group also got CBCT counseling but after a gap of three months.
The new therapy focuses on helping the person deal with PTSD while simultaneously helping the couple work on making the relationship better. The therapy consists of 15 sessions over three phases.
Researchers found that 81 percent of couples who underwent the CBCT therapy were able to deal with PTSD better than others. Couples who received this therapy also had lower depression and anger levels and 62 percent of the couples reported that their relationship with their partner improved.
Researchers say that partners of PTSD patients must try and seek professional help, but not force it on their partners.
In the next phase of studying the effects of counseling on PTSD, researchers will compare this therapy with individual therapy which is being studied on active duty members and their partners, according to a news release.