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Couples in distress: Marital enrichment vs traditional marital therapy

31 July 1994


The purpose of this review was to investigate whether there were any criteria that would allow a therapist to differentially select between traditional marital therapy (TMT) and marital enrichment programs (MEP's) for couples in distress. A comprehensive effort was made to generate literature-supported criteria for choosing between these two modalities. Factors examined included indicators, contraindicators, predictor variables, and demonstrated effectiveness of each modality. Some support was found for the effectiveness of both modalities; however, little support was found for specific variables that would predict success in either one. Other variables identified as correlated with positive · treatment outcome were client modality preference, client expectancies for treatment, client's level of motivation to participate in treatment, and the development of a strong therapeutic alliance. One important finding ,was that MEP's can be effective with somewhat distressed couples; therefore, the historical distinction between distressed and nondistressed clients may need to be modified in favor of differentiating moderately distressed from severely distressed clients for purposes of inclusion/exclusion in either MEP's or TMT presented in a group format.


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