If a client dealing with combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) presents for psychotherapy, should you consider including his or her partner in treatment? How could couples therapy be beneficial? What framework do you have to conceptualize the relational issues and potential treatment? Although clinicians have long been encouraged to include families in the treatment of combat-related PTSD, few specific couple-family therapies exist, and outcome research is scarce. Because of the adverse effects of PTSD on relationships, couples therapy can be a powerful adjunct treatment; however, few receive this service. A new framework for conceptualizing couples therapy organizes treatment around the 3 PTSD symptom clusters (reexperiencing, avoidance, and arousal). Relationship consequences of each symptom cluster are summarized, followed by useful treatment interventions and a case study.
- Couples-family psychotherapy
- Military combat
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)