Treating Difficult Couples: Helping Clients with Coexisting Mental and Relationship Disorders

By Coyle, James P. | Family Relations, January 2006 | Go to article overview

Treating Difficult Couples: Helping Clients with Coexisting Mental and Relationship Disorders


Coyle, James P., Family Relations


Treating Difficult Couples: Helping Clients With Coexisting Mental and Relationship Disorders. D. K. Snyder and M. A. Whisman (Eds.). New York: The Guilford Press. 2003. 448 pp. Cloth ISBN: 1-57230-882-6, $45.00.

Practitioners who work with couples will welcome Treating Difficult Couples, which provides an excellent guide for treating couples who also are experiencing mental or behavioral disorders. Because relationship problems often are exacerbated by mental disorders, and couple distress may influence the development of mental disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, or sexual dysfunction), couples-based treatment is a valuable resource. This book discusses the reciprocal impact between a number of mental disorders and relationship dysfunction and suggests couples therapy methods that effectively influence both.

The first section of the book establishes the importance of couple therapy for treating mental disorders. The prevalence of comorbid relationship problems and mental disorders is discussed, and a conceptual approach for couples' treatment that is tailored to the distinct characteristics of the individual mental problem is developed. The second section presents couples-based treatments for specific mental disorders, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse, sexual dysfunction, and physical aggression. A third section proposes methods for adapting couples' treatment for individual problems, such as borderline personality disorder, paranoia, narcissism, posttraumatic stress, childhood sexual trauma, physical illness, cognitive impairment related to aging, and bereavement. …

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