The Gap between Couple Therapy Research Efficacy and Practice Effectiveness Academic Article uri icon


  • Meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials of couple therapy find large improvements in couple adjustment, but published evaluations of the effectiveness of couple therapy in routine practice find only small-to-moderate effects. The current study analyzes possible explanations for the research-efficacy to practice-effectiveness gap and offers suggestions for enhancing couple therapy effectiveness. Major recommendations are that therapists should clarify whether couples' therapy goal is to clarify commitment to the relationship or to improve the relationship; use standardized assessment of the individual partners and the relationship; and use systematic monitoring of therapy progress and the therapeutic alliance. It is also possible that the greater use of evidence-based therapies when treating couple relationship distress could enhance couple therapy outcome.

publication date

  • 2015