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Marital Adjustment as a Mediating Factor Between Symptom Distress and Therapeutic Alliance in Couples Therapy




Stephens, Melissa

Type of Degree



Human Development and Family Studies


Previous research on symptom distress and therapeutic alliance in conjoint treatment indicates that symptom distress does not impact the formation of alliance, rather, marital adjustment impacts alliance formation. Because symptom distress impacts alliance within individual therapy literature, this study investigated the possibility of marital adjustment as a mediating factor between symptom distress and therapeutic alliance formation in couple’s therapy. From a sample of 95 cases of couples in committed relationships at Auburn University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Center, this hypothesis was tested. Results indicated that male symptom distress mediated the relationship between male marital adjustment and male therapeutic alliance formation. Therefore, the findings contradicted previous literature on couple’s symptom distress and adjustment which state that symptom distress is not influential in conjoint treatment.