Entries in Counseling (2)


Couples Therapy Cuts PTSD Symptoms, Improves Relationships

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- According to statistics, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, are twice as likely to separate from a spouse or divorce.  But a new study suggests couples therapy can cut PTSD symptoms and keep families together.

"The best way to think of it is as a PTSD treatment that happens to be delivered to couples," said study author Candice Monson, professor of psychology at Ryerson University in Toronto.  "We tried to take what we know about trauma recovery -- that social support and interpersonal relationships are some of the most important factors for overcoming traumatic events -- and incorporate that into PTSD treatment."

The study of 40 couples plagued by PTSD found that those who participated in 15 therapy sessions reported relief from PTSD symptoms and improvements in relationship satisfaction -- even three months after the sessions stopped.  The findings, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest spousal support can boost the response to PTSD treatment.

"We would never say to a cancer patient, 'You're going through this treatment alone,'" said Monson, describing the double standard for psychological illness.  "We would encourage loved ones to be there for the treatment, and understand its course and how they can help."

Dr. Carol Bernstein, associate professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York and past president of the American Psychiatric Association, called couples therapy for PTSD "a superb idea."

"The symptoms of psychiatric illness have a tremendous impact on those who love the person suffering.  And to the extent that partners can be engaged in the treatment and educated about the condition and how they can help, the better the outcome for everyone," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Prostate Cancer Counseling Helps Couples' Sex Lives, Says Study

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Despite improved therapies for men diagnosed with prostate cancer, most men face erection dysfunction because of nerve damage or blood flow problems.  Many also lose their desire for sex and have difficulties reaching an orgasm.

Now, a new study published online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, suggests that counseling can enhance the effectiveness of erectile dysfunction medications to help improve couples' sex lives.

Both Internet-based counseling and face-to-face therapy sessions improved the sex lives of prostate cancer survivors and their spouses, according to the study led by Leslie Schover, a psychologist and professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

"When men get these problems, they see their sexual function as how hard is my erection, and women get ignored and turned off," she said.  "And so men get distressed emotionally and feel like they are a failure."

In the study, Internet-based and face-to-face counseling focused on both partners' enjoyment when they "encountered more intimacy and less performance," said Schover.

The University of Texas study involved 115 couples. In each case, the man's prostate cancer treatment had taken place no more than two years prior to the study.  Half of the couples sought no help for three months.  The other half had three face-to-face counseling sessions or worked with an online counselor who gave feedback on the Internet.

A third group of 71 couples who lived too far to participate in face-to-face counseling was part of the Internet group.

Couples were also educated about treatment options for impotence: drugs like Viagra that increase blood flow, shots in the penis, vacuum pumps and surgical penile implants.

Each partner looked over the information on these medical interventions and rated them. The computer generated their top three choices.

Couples compared notes then agreed on a treatment option as a first step.  They were also monitored by counselors to see how well it worked and to "troubleshoot," according to Schover.

After three months, the couples who had received no counseling benefits were assigned one of the two treatment options.

Both partners in the relationship filled out questionnaires assessing their sexual function and satisfaction before counseling, after treatment, and at six months and one year later.

At the end of one year, 54 percent found effective treatments for their sexual dysfunction.  On average, the group "looked like the score of men in a community who don't have erection problems," said Schover.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio