Couple and family involvement in adult mental health treatment: A systematic review

Laura A. Meis, Joan M. Griffin, Nancy Greer, Agnes C. Jensen, Roderick MacDonald, Maureen Carlyle, Indulis Rutks, Timothy J. Wilt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


We reviewed randomized controlled trials conducted in the United States from January, 1996 through December, 2011 that examined family interventions for adult mental health conditions. We identified 51 articles (39 trials) evaluating 21 different family interventions. Findings for behavioral couple or family therapy (BCT/BFT) and community reinforcement and training (CRAFT) for substance use disorders were each pooled separately for examination in meta-analyses. Findings suggest BCT/BFT reduced substance use (small-to-moderate effects) and improved relationship adjustment (large effects) compared to individually-oriented treatments. CRAFT increased treatment initiation three-fold but did not improve substance use or family functioning over alternative family interventions. Family focused therapy for bipolar disorder improved symptoms over less intensive treatments with mixed findings when compared to equally intensive treatments. For both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia spectrum disorders, the few trials meeting our search criteria and heterogeneity among trials precluded generating broader conclusions regarding which family interventions are most effective for US populations. Overall, trials were limited in their methodological quality, and many interventions were evaluated in one trial. Future research is needed to replicate findings for these single trials, examine relationship distress as a moderator of outcome, and examine BCT/BFT among dual substance using couples and outside the research group frequently represented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-286
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Couple therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Mental health
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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