Psychology ETDs


Benjamin Ladd

Publication Date



Behavioral Couple Therapy (BCT) has garnered considerable empirical support for its efficacy in resolving marital conflict. BCT also has documented success in treating individual health problems, including alcohol use disorders (AUDs). Consistent with the larger BCT framework, Alcohol Behavioral Couple Therapy (ABCT) theory considers social interactions and exchanges in response to alcohol as critical antecedents and reinforcers of alcohol use. Thus, the purported mechanisms behind such components (e.g. positive reciprocity, leveling & editing) are based on the implicit assumption that the relationships of individuals where one partner has a problem with alcohol work similarly to those in distressed couples which neither partner has an alcohol problem. However, this assumption has yet to be tested directly; thus, the aim of the current study was to test whether classification of the presentation of couples in which one partner has an alcohol problem provides similarly meaningful information to what has been documented in the general couples literature. Specifically, typologies of couples seeking ABCT (N = 169) were examined and compared to couple typologies found in previous research on community samples of couples. Additionally, this study aimed to build on the couple typology findings by examining whether typology at the start of treatment predicted alcohol treatment response and outcome. Results suggest that four types of couples can be reliably established in couples seeking ABCT and these couple types resemble couples types found in previous research. Couple type was associated with baseline relationship satisfaction; however, no evidence was found that couple type is associated with alcohol use outcome. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of general couple therapy and ABCT specifically.

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First Advisor

McCrady, Barbara

First Committee Member (Chair)

Bogenschutz, Michael

Second Committee Member

Moyers, Theresa

Third Committee Member

Smith, Jane Ellen

Fourth Committee Member

Tonigan, J. Scott




Couple Typology, Alcohol Behavioral Couple Therapy, Alcohol Treatment

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