Family therapies

What are family therapies?

PTSD avoidance symptoms can reduce involvement in family activities, while symptoms of emotional numbing can inhibit self-disclosure and intimacy. Hyperarousal symptoms are linked to irritability and anger and can also precipitate aggression and family conflict. Therefore, several couple and family therapies for PTSD have been developed. These are mostly based on cognitive-behavioural models and attachment theory. Interventions that enhance relationship skills and communication can equip families to better manage interpersonal difficulties, while also facilitating self-disclosure and related experiences of intimacy. Therapies that promote understanding of PTSD symptoms and their impact on relationships assist in correcting false beliefs about interpersonal behaviour which can further reduce family conflict.

What is the evidence for family therapies?

Moderate to low quality evidence found large improvements in PTSD, anxiety, and depression symptoms, but not relationship satisfaction, with cognitive behavioural conjoint/couple’s therapy compared to no treatment in people with PTSD. There was also a large improvement in PTSD symptoms, but not anxiety, depression, or relationship satisfaction, with structural approach therapy compared to family education. There were no improvements in relationship satisfaction, depression, or anxiety in partners with either treatment.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 5:18 am, 29th July 2021
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