• integrative couples therapy

    UW prof co-creator of innovative new therapy
    Lori Carpenter
    Contributing Writer


    This isn't just another approach to therapy. This could be the future problem solver for couples. Integrative couples therapy (ICT) was developed by UW psychology Professor Neil Jacobson and his colleague at UCLA, Professor Andrew Christensen. The therapy focuses on the acceptance and tolerance of differences that exist between partners. This approach differs from traditional behavioral therapy which focuses on changing the relationship. Sara Berns, one of five research assistants to Jacobson, said that integrative couples therapy encourages couples to "give up the struggle of trying to change each other" and to focus on accepting each other's behaviors as they are."ICT helps the couple understand why each partner behaves the way they do. Instead of seeing the other's behavior as a negative thing, ICT helps change the context of the action. Through understanding and acceptance, ICT has reached a success rate of more than 85% in a recent pilot study. In traditional couples therapy, there has been a ceiling success rate of 50% in marital counseling," stated Neil Jacobson in a press release. The ICT pilot involved 20 couples from the Seattle area who were in some sort of marital distress that may have led to divorce. All couples treated with the new therapeutic approach were still married a year after receiving treatment. However, three couples treated with the traditional approach were divorced a year later. The pilot study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. A grant proposal has been submitted for a further study that would enable researchers to do an evaluation of 180 couples from both the Seattle and L.A. areas. A decision is expected in February. Jacobson was in New York last Thursday speaking at the Association for the Advancement of Behavioral Therapy meeting, about integrative couples therapy. He has also co-written two books, one that came out two weeks ago entitled Integrative Couples Therapy and another book not yet released, titled When Lovers Make War.

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