Study of IAPT practitioners trained in Couple Therapy for Depression (CTFD) proves strong value of the modality for patients’ overall wellbeing

A recent in-house study conducted by Tavistock Relationships has made the significant finding that Couple Therapy for Depression has a significant positive effect on both anxiety and depression AS WELL AS improving couple relationship quality and, crucially, that improvements in relationship satisfaction are predictive of recovery from depression.

Tavistock Relationships’ research was based on over 200 clients, where one or both of them were diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety and receiving Couple Therapy for Depression, which was delivered by practitioners under natural conditions, as part of ordinary service delivery. This 16-20 session integrated, evidence-based treatment is approved by NICE and delivered across the country within IAPT services.  

Head of Research at Tavistock Relationships, Dr. David Hewison led the research showing:

  • evidence of statistically significant improvement in clients’ depression, anxiety concurrent with relationship satisfaction
  • evidence that improvement in relationship satisfaction predicts recovery.

The work is further evidence of the benefit of this relationship-focused intervention for  depression and relationship distress. This approach is unique in the NHS in that it is designed around the couple. Both partners attend the therapy sessions with an accredited IAPT counsellor or therapist, trained in Couple Therapy for Depression. The treatment helps by addressing the causal and maintaining factors in the relationship that are contributing to the diagnosis of depression or anxiety where the relationship is seen as an important resource for recovery.

Tavistock Relationships’ Head of Couple Therapy for Depression training, Kate Thompson, commented:

“We now have crucial evidence that satisfaction in the relationship predicts recovery from depression and anxiety.

What is also remarkable is that change was sustained throughout treatment, for both anxiety and depression.

With this further evidence it is clear that belief and strength of relationship quality are critical factors for couples going through hard times. It’s also important to point out the positive impact on children and families when couples work to improve how they relate to each other, and the positive impact on public health that this has.”

As this is data from trainees’ cases, we might suggest that once fully-qualified, these findings can only improve.

We would suggest, especially in light of this evidence, that all NHS training managers and coordinators of IAPT services allocate training and delivery time for Couple Therapy for  Depression. Where it is not provided, ask, as there may be training funding available, via a service lead or an HEE regional training coordinator. For patients, we suggest that your GP is the first port of call to getting the right kind of help for your relationship to alleviate depression and anxiety.”


tavistock round LG

Couple Therapy for Depression