Effect of systemic- constructive couple therapy on mutuality in distressed couples

Document Type : Original


1 Professor of Consultative Group, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran.

2 Assistant Professor of Psychology, Islamic Azad University, Shiraz Branch,Iran

3 Assistant Professor of Consulting, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran.


The aim of this research was to investigate the effect of systemic-constructivist couple therapy on mutuality in distressed couples. The method of sampling was purposive-voluntary, then among couples referring to private and governmental clinics in Ahwaz, 4 couples were selected using include and exclude criteria, and the cut of point in the Spanier dyadic adjustment questionnaire. The study was a Single‐Case Experimental method called non-concurrent multiple baseline design. Then, in several times, couples filled out mutuality questionnaire in treatment and following stages. The data were analyzed using visual analysis, reliable change index, percent improvement formula, and normative comparison. The results showed that the couples experienced improvement in mutuality in treatment (29.22%) and follow-up (30/62%) stages. In addition, normative comparison showed that there was not any different between treatment group and normal group. The systemic-constructivist couple therapy could increase mutuality and decrease distress in the couples referring to clinics.


 Therapy(SCCT): Investigating the role of Couple Identity in Marital Satisfaction. Dissertation submitted for Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, York University, Toronto, Canada.
Andouz, Z., Dolatshahi, B., Moshtagh, N., & Dadkhah, A. (2012). The efficacy of metacognitive therapy on patients suffering from pure obsession. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry7, 1, 11-21.
Aron, A., Aron, E. N., & Smollan, D. (1992). Inclusion of other in the self-scale and the structure of interpersonal closeness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology63, 596-612.
Aron, A., Norman, C. C., Aron, E. N., & Lewandowski, G. (2002), Shared participation in self-expanding activities: Positive effects on experienced marital quality. In P. Noller & J. A. Feeney (Eds). Understanding marriage: Developments in the study of couple interaction (pp. 177-194), New York: Cambridge University Press.
Baddeley, J. L., Berry, M., & Singer, J. A. (2013). Mutuality and Marital Adjustment, Well-Being, and Health in Military Couples. The Military Psychologist29, 1, 19-25.
Buehlman, K. T., Gottman, J. M., & Katz, L. F. (1992). How a couple views their past predicts their future: Predicting divorce from an oral history interview. Journal of Family Psychology, 5, 295–318.
Cavaliere, C. (2008). Listening to Understand as a Therapeutic Strategy for Enhancing Interpersonal Processing in an Intimate Relationship. York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Collins, N. L. & Feeney, B. C. (2004). An attachment theory perspective on closeness and intimacy: Normative processes and individual differences. In D. Mashek & A. Aron (Eds.), Handbook of Closeness and Intimacy (pp. 163-187). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Dalton, J. (2005). Increasing marital satisfaction in clinically distressed couples: The role of empathic accuracy and “we-ness.” Doctoral dissertation, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Doell. F. k. (2010). Enhancing couples' communication through Systemic-Constructivist Couple Therapy: The relationship between marital listening and relationship quality. Dissertation submitted for Doctorate in philosophy. York University. Canada.
Eisen, S. V., Ranganathan, G., Seal, P., & Spiro III, A. (2007). Measuring clinically meaningful change following mental health treatment. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research34 (3), 272-289.
Genero, N. P., Miller, J. B., Surrey, J., & Baldwin, L. M. (1992). Measuring perceived mutuality in close relationships: Validation of the mutual psychological development questionnaire. Journal of Family Psychology, 6, 36-48.
Gottman, J. M. (1993). A theory of marital dissolution and stability. Journal of family psychology7 (1), 57-75.
Ingram, R. E., Scott, W. D., & Hayes, A. (2000). Empirically supported treatments: A critical analysis. In C. R. Snyder & Q. R. E. Ingram (Eds.), handbook of psychological change (pp. 40-60). New York: Wiley.
Jacobson, N. S., & Christensen, A. (1996). Integrativecouple therapy: Promoting acceptance and change. New York: Norton.
Johanson, B., & Cheristensen, L. (2008). Educational research. Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed approaches. SAGE Publications, 345.
Kendal, P, C., & Grove, W. M. (1988). Normative comparison in outcome theory. Behavioral assessment, 10, 147-158.
Kendall, P. C., Marrs-Garcia, A., Nath, S. R., & Sheldrick, R. C. (1999). Normative comparisons for the evaluation of clinical significance. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology67 (3), 285.
Kruger, K. (2005). Relationship and relational mutuality as predictors of well-being and six constructs of well-being. A Dissertation Submitted to the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.Tennessee State University. United States of America.
McRae, T. R., Dalgleish, T. L., Johnson, S. M., Burgess-Moser, M., & Killian, K. D. (2014). Emotion regulation and key change events in emotionally focused couple therapy.  Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy13, 1–24.
Miller, S. (2008). Thinking and speaking in the third person: an extraction study of a technique from systemic-constructivist couple therapy. Graduate program in psychology. York University.
Newman, P., H, A & Newman, B, A (2009). Development through life: a psychological approach. Wadsworth engage learning. Nelson thrones Ltd.
Reid, D. W., & McKim, L. (2014). Psychometric Evaluation of the Couples Mutuality Questionnaire: A Measure of Perceived Mutuality. Manuscript in progress for submission. In press.
Reid, D. W., Dalton, J., Laderoute, K., Doell, F., & Nguyen, T. (2006). Therapeutically induced changes in couple identity: The role of 'we-ness' and interpersonal processing in relationship satisfaction. Genetic, Social and General Psychology Monographs, 132, 121-143.
Reid, D. W., Doell, F., Dalton, J., & Ahmad, S. (2008). Systemic Constructivist Couple Therapy (SCCT): Description of approach, theoretical advances, and published longitudinal evidence. Psychotherapy Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 45, 4, 477–490.
Skerrett, K. (1998). Couple adjustment to the experience of breast cancer. Family Systems and Health, 16, 281–298.
Spanier, G. B. (1976). Measuring dyadic adjustment: New scales for assessing the quality of marriage and similar dyads. Journal of Marriage and Family38, 15-28.
Stewart, W. (2005). An A-Z of Counseling Theory and Practice (4 th Ed). Nelson thorns LTD.
Zhan, S., & Ottenbacher, K. J. (2001). Single subject research designs for disability research. Disability & Rehabilitation, 23, 1-8.