Brief Interventions for Couples: An Integrative Review

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Family Relations






Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.

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Objective To review brief couple interventions (BCIs), with a focus on contributions to theory, development, and implications for practice. Background For decades, scholars have observed the individual and societal costs of relationship instability. Due to these costs, state and federal agencies have invested millions of dollars in relationship and marriage education programs with the hope of promoting the positive effects associated with healthy relationships. However, the plausibility of many of these interventions has been challenged, suggesting a need for renewed focus on different approaches to promote relationship quality and stability throughout the life course. Method We searched numerous databases to review brief interventions used in multiple disciplines. This review resulted in 12 studies ranging from samples of young adults to established couples. Results We found several interventions using distinct delivery methods and theoretical frameworks. These interventions targeted numerous individual and relational processes, such as self-esteem, distress related to conflict, and gratitude that promoted healthy relationship functioning. Conclusion We provide evidence that brief interventions influence individual and relational processes by targeting factors relevant to couples across the life course. We ultimately find support for the utility of the vulnerability–stress–adaptation model when developing interventions for couples. Implications On the basis of our review, we end with numerous practical suggestions for clinicians to adopt when developing programs to promote healthy relationships.

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