The Cognitive-affective and Behavioural Impact of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy

Title: The Cognitive-affective and Behavioural Impact of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy
Authors: Burgess Moser, Melissa
Date: 2012
Abstract: Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT; Johnson, 2004) addresses relationship distress by facilitating the development of new patterns of interaction between partners. These new patterns of interaction are based on partners' vulnerable acknowledgement and expression of attachment needs. Partners' engagement in these new patterns of interaction is thought to improve their relationship-specific attachment bond. Although previous studies have shown EFT to result in excellent relationship satisfaction outcomes (Johnson, Hunsley, Greenberg & Schindler, 1999), research had yet clearly to demonstrate if and how EFT facilitates increases in partners' relationship-specific models attachment security over the course of therapy. To address this research gap, the current study employed Hierarchical Linear Modelling (HLM; Singer & Willet, 2003) to investigate the pattern of change in couples' (n=32) self-reported relationship satisfaction and relationship-specific attachment over the course of EFT. Couples reported significant linear increases in their relationship satisfaction and significant linear decreases in their relationship-specific attachment avoidance over the course of therapy. Couples who completed the blamer-softening therapeutic change event (n=16) demonstrated significant linear decreases in their relationship-specific attachment anxiety after completing this event. Decreases in relationship-specific attachment anxiety predicted increases in couples' relationship satisfaction over the course of therapy. Couples also demonstrated significant increases in the security of their pre-post-therapy relationship-specific attachment behaviour, as coded Secure Base Scoring System (Crowell, Treboux, Gao, Fyffe, Pan & Waters, 2002). The current study also used HLM (Singer & Willet, 2003) to examine how the completion of blamer-softening impacted softened couples' relationship-specific attachment anxiety, and whether the completion of blamer-softening had a similar impact on softened couples' relationship-specific attachment avoidance and relationship satisfaction. Softened couples reported an immediate increase in relationship satisfaction and immediate decrease relationship-specific attachment avoidance at the softening session. Further, softened couples' post-softening decreases in relationship-specific attachment anxiety were initially preceded by an increase at the softening session. These results provided an understanding of how EFT leads to increases in couples' relationship-specific attachment security. These results provide support for the use of attachment theory in the treatment of relationship distress, and also provide an illustration of how attachment can shift over the course of a therapeutic intervention.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -