Marital therapy: Qualities of couples who fare better or worse in treatment

Robert B. Hampson, Catherine C. Prince, W. Robert Beavers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


To evaluate the effectiveness of couples therapy and determine the characteristics and qualities of couples who fare best in treatment, 139 couples presenting at a nonlaboratory sliding-fee clinic in Dallas, Texas, were evaluated. Observational and self-report measures of the Beavers Systems Model were taken at the first session and, for some subjects, at termination. Therapists also rated the couples on goal attainment and on dimensions of the therapeutic alliance. Not surprisingly, there was a direct association between number of sessions and goal attainment, with couples attending only one or two sessions having the lowest goal attainment. There were also significant family functioning qualities associated with success: more competent couples fared better in therapy. Another consistent finding was that couples with no children did better in treatment than those who were also parents. It is interesting that remarried couples without children did best in treatment, followed by first-married couples with no children, first-married couples with children, and, finally, remarried couples with children. Implications for screening and clinical work with couples are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-424
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Marital and Family Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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