Family therapies

What are family therapies for PTSD?

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 and communication skills equip families to better manage interpersonal difficulties. They also facilitate 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

Image: ©Nomad_Soul –

Last updated at: 4:22 am, 12th October 2021
To view documentation related to this topic download the files below
Fact Sheet Technical Commentary

NeuRA Libraries

Title Colour Legend:
Green - Topic summary is available.
Orange - Topic summary is being compiled.
Red - Topic summary has no current systematic review available.