2007 OCF Grant

Enhanced cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD: A couple-based approach (2 year study)

Jonathan Abramowitz, PhD

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC)

Award Amount: $25,570

Spouses and romantic partners of people with OCD often accommodate their loved ones’ symptoms, which reinforces them despite their belief that they may be helping their loved one. Could including partners in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) help people with OCD recover?

This study by Dr. Abramowitz and his team aimed to assess whether a couple-based CBT module that targets relationship dynamics would help people with OCD. 18 couples in which one partner had OCD took part in 16 sessions of couple-based CBT that included partner-assisted exposure and response prevention, techniques that target patterns such as symptom accommodation, and techniques that target stressors unrelated to OCD. Following treatment, there was a significant reduction in OCD and depression symptoms, and better relationship functioning. OCD symptom reduction was maintained at a year-long follow-up. This pilot study showed that a couple-based CBT module could be effective for treating OCD and enhancing relationship dynamics.


Resulting Publication:

*Abramowitz, J.S., Baucom, D.H., Boeding, S., Wheaton, M.G., Pukay-Martin, N.D., Fabricant, L.E., Paprocki, C., & Fischer, M.S. (2013). Treating obsessive-compulsive disorder in intimate relationships: A pilot study of couple-based cognitive-behavior therapy. Behavior Therapy, 44, 395-407. doi:10.1016/j.beth.2013.02.005