Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy

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An important development in behavioral couple treatment has been the development of integrative behavioral couple therapy (IBCT; Christensen, Jacobson, & Babcock, 1995). This approach to the treatment of couple distress is consistent in many ways with the principle-based intervention that we present in this chapter. IBCT is an empirically validated intervention that combines the change-oriented strategies of traditional behavioral couple therapy (TBCT; Jacobson, & Margolin, 1979), including behavioral exchange and communication/problem-solving skills, with newer strategies focused on acceptance.

Christensen and Jacobson developed IBCT in response to a desire to enhance therapy outcomes for couples (Christensen et al., 1995). Although research on TBCT showed couples improving quickly, the percentage of couples that showed reliable improvement directly after treatment was lower than hoped, and there was evidence of deterioration over time (Christensen et al., 2004). IBCT differs from TBCT in that an acceptance component has been added to the change-oriented approach. Three major strategies are used to promote emotional acceptance in IBCT: (1) empathetic joining around the problem, (2) unified detachment from the problem, and (3) building tolerance to some of the responses that the problem can trigger (Christensen et al., 1995).

IBCT incorporates many of the same behavioral principles we use in our approach. Although IBCT is well suited for survivor couples in many ways, it was not developed specifically for use with this population and has not been evaluated as a treatment for trauma.

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