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The Integrative Model of Brief Couples Counseling

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The piece focuses on couples counseling and the effects it has on psychological distress and marital adjustment. This focal point of this article in on a study of fifty-eight couples going through a counseling approach. This counseling approach is called the Integrative model of Brief Couples Counseling (IMBCC). The participants are given a pretest before starting their four to six sessions of counseling. After the sessions conclude, they are then given a posttest that assesses the same items on the pretest: their psychological distress and marital adjustment. The research question of this study was “Do married couples report an increase in marital satisfaction and reduction in individual psychological distress following participation in brief couples counseling using the IMBCC?”

The investigators hypothesized that after couples go through the sessions using the IMBCC that they would show an improvement on their marital adjustment while also showing lower levels of psychological distress. The researchers in this study are trying to understand if receiving counseling before the average six years that partners wait, will improve marital adjustment and psychological distress. The demographics of the people studied included 66.8% white people, 7.6% Black/Non-Hispanic, and 13.6% Hispanic. When examining education, 12.5% only completed some high school, 37% studied completed some college and 10.9% completed college and received a bachelor’s degree. When looking at number of children, 22.8% of couples had zero children, 23.9% had two children and 33.7% of couples had 3 or more children. The mean age was 35.2 years, the mean number of children was two and the mean length of marriage was 8.2 years. Researchers recruited participants by using convenience sampling procedures. Convenience sampling procedures is when researchers selected participants based on convenient accessibility and proximity to the researcher. They recruited fifty-eight couples who sought out counseling from the university clinic which was convenient and the partners are close enough to participate. They were then contacted and provided with information about the study.

During the first session, couples were supplied with more information about the study and investigators developed a profile on the couple. Participants then completed between four and six counseling sessions based on the severity of their counseling concerns. After the closing of all sessions, individuals completed two assessments for the data collection. The research was quantitative as the data was reported in numbers. The data was collected in two ways, from a questionnaire called the Outcomes Questionnaire 45.2and a test called the Marital Adjustment Test given to the participants. The researchers utilized these to collect data because they were easy to administrator. The Outcomes Questionnaire 45.2 or OQ 45.2 was a forty-five question distress scale that measured four different properties from the person. These four categories included, depression and anxiety symptoms, satisfaction and problems in relationships and level of dissatisfaction of family life, work, social life and the overall level of distress of the person. The investigators have proven that the OQ 45.2 is 93% reliable and has a 84% test-retest reliability.

Attendees were also given a test called the Marital Adjustment Test or the MAT. The MAT is a fifteen item test that shows a clear difference between distressed and nondistressed couples. The MAT is one of the oldest couples assessments but still the most effective when it comes to measuring relationship satisfaction. The test measures happiness, marital agreement and decision-making in marriage. This multiple-choice test takes less than five minutes to complete which helps test-takers be more honest with less questions. The MAT is scored by examining the agreement between a partners responses and then calculating a score. The highest possible score on this test is a 158, a score of 100 is the cut off for distressed couples while the average score for distressed couples is a 72. On the contrary, a non distressed couple would score around 136 on the test. The findings of the research included significant differences in marital adjustment and psychological distress. Investigators also found that OQ 42.5 scores decreased from pretest to posttest and the MAT scores increased from pre to post treatment. Healthy scores for partners are supposed to be low numbers for the OQ 42.5 and high numbers for the MAT. This shows that the IMBCC is a likely contributor to reducing psychological distress and improving the marital adjustment of the participants.

To summarize, this study tested fifty-eight married pairson their psychological distress and maritaladjustment through the IMBCC, prior to counseling sessions and after counseling sessions occurred. The mean age was 35.2 years, the mean number of children was two and the mean length of marriage was 8.2 years. The participants went through four to six counseling sessions depending on the severity of their case. After counseling was completed, they took two tests to determine the marital adjustment and psychological distress differences. Results showed that both psychological distress and marital adjustment improved after counseling concluded which proves that the IMBCC can be an effective method. TheIMBCC method is an effective way of helping married people since all results were positive. Counseling can help in numerous ways for married couples. Many newly-weds may be hesitant to approach counseling but this article proves that it is an effective way to help marital issues.

Suggestions for the future of this study would include following up with the couples who dropped out of the study to see if they would share the reason they dropped out or take the tests to see if results changed from the amount of counseling they did receive. Another suggestion would be to reach out to couples who did not explicitly ask for counseling. By reaching out to other couples it would show if psychological distress and marital adjustment can change even when couples do not want the counseling at first. In the future, the IMBCC may be able to help resolve more issues of partners and help them to relieve psychological distress.

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