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Treating Couples with Depression: Addressing Additional Comorbid and Complicating Conditions

Don Baucom

26 Feb 2024


Behavioural couple therapy for depression is widely used in Talking Therapies services and elsewhere in the UK when one partner is depressed, including couples with and without relationship distress. However in reality, the presenting picture might not be that straightforward. Instead, often there are additional factors present that complicate the treatment. Along with depression, patients often experience anxiety that needs to be taken into account, regardless of whether the anxiety meets diagnostic criteria or not. Similarly, many patients also have comorbid long-term conditions such as cancer or cardiovascular complications which require attention. The current workshop provides training in how to address these additional comorbid and complicating factors (i.e., anxiety and health concerns) when working with a couple in which one partner is depressed. These couple-based interventions draw from a rich body of cognitive-behavioural individual interventions and can be employed both with relationally distressed and satisfied couples. Thus, the overall goal of the workshop is to help the clinician adapt treatment for couples with depression in order to address the additional multifaceted set of complicating factors that often are present among couples in routine clinical settings.

The event will be equivalent to 5.1/2hrs of CPD.


This workshop will:
• Provide a conceptual framework for understanding how relationships can impact individual distress related to anxiety and long-term conditions, which present along with depression
• Address both broad relationship factors and specific interaction patterns between partners that are adaptive and maladaptive for addressing anxiety and long-term conditions within the context of depression
• Present specific interventions for anxiety and long-term conditions within a couple intervention context
• Discuss how to sequence couple-based interventions when comorbid conditions are present

Learning Objectives

You will learn:
• How to conceptualize various comorbid conditions within a dyadic context
• How to understand the reciprocal, bidirectional influences between relationship functioning and individual distress caused by these comorbid conditions
• How to apply specific cognitive-behavioural interventions for treating comorbid anxiety and a variety of common issues present in long term conditions
• How to sequence interventions for depression, relationship distress, and complicating factors such as anxiety and long-term conditions in a couple-based intervention

Training Modalities

Didactic content, video role play, Q&A

Key References

Baucom, D. H., Fischer, M. S., Corrie, S., Worrell, M., & Boeding, S. E. (2020). Treating relationship distress and psychopathology in couples: A cognitive-behavioural approach. Abingdon, England: Routledge.

Baucom, D.H. & Fischer, M.S. (2022). Couple-based interventions for adult psychopathology. Howard S. Friedman and Charlotte H. Markey (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Mental Health, (3rd ed). New York: Elsevier.

Baucom, D. H., Porter, L. S., Kirby, J. S., & Hudepohl, J. (2012). Couple-based interventions for medical problems. Behavior Therapy, 43(1), 61-76. doi:10.1016/j.beth.2011.01.008

Baucom, D.H., Porter, L.S., Kirby, J.S., Gremore, T.M., Wiesenthal, N., Aldridge, W., Fredman, S.J., Stanton, S.E., Scott, J.L., Halford, K.W., & Keefe, F.J. (2009). A couple- based intervention for female breast cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 18, 276-283.

Baucom, D. H., Fischer, M. S., Worrell, M., Corrie, S., Belus, J. M., Molyva, E., & Boeding, S. E. (2018).  Couple-based intervention for depression: An effectiveness study in the National Health Service in England. Family Process, 57 (2), 275-292. doi: 10.1111/famp.12332

Abramowitz, J.A., Baucom, D.H., Boeding, S., Wheaton, M.G., Pukay-Martin, N.D., Fabricant, L. E., Paprocki, C., & Fischer, M. (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

About the presenter

Donald H. Baucom is Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.  He is one of the developers of cognitive-behavioural couple therapy and has been actively involved in adapting and evaluating couple-based interventions for a variety of issues that couples confront.  This work includes interventions for relationally distressed couples, employing couple-based interventions for couples in which one partner has a psychological problem (e.g., depression, anxiety, eating disorders) or long term condition (e.g., cancer, cardiovascular disease), and treating infidelity. In addition to his research in the couple’s area, he and colleagues have published three widely used books on cognitive-behavioural couple therapy.  Regarding his work on couples and individual distress, he is lead author on his most recent book on addressing couples with comorbid psychopathology, along with multiple empirical treatment studies, chapters, and review articles.  He also has been an active clinician in private practice with couples for over 45 years.  He has won several teaching awards, and he holds an Endowed Chair at the University of North Carolina for his research contributions to the field of couple research. He also has received awards for his excellence in clinical supervision and mentoring doctoral students. He gives frequent workshops to professionals in the United States and other countries around the world, also having consulted with the NHS for many years. 

Who should attend

This workshop is appropriate for any therapist who works with couples in a variety of contexts, addressing relationship distress, individual psychopathology, or long term conditions. A basic understanding of couple therapy is assumed. Frequently therapists work with couples who experience complicating comorbid conditions in one or both partners, and therapists struggle to integrate these individual issues into couple sessions; the current workshop is intended to address these issues. Likewise, a therapist might be working with an individual and realize that integrating a partner into the treatment might be valuable; the current workshop is applicable here as well. Therapists who have undergone training in BCT for depression will find this workshop particularly valuable in addressing additional complexities that often are present; additional therapists not trained in BCT for depression are welcome as well.

Low Intensity clinical contact hours survey - BABCP Low Intensity Special Interest Group

Please click below if you are interested in contributing to the survey.


The BACP Low Intensity SIG are interested in the impact of clinical contact hours on Low Intensity/Wellbeing Practitioner wellbeing. This questionnaire contains six multi-choice questions and a free text box for you to share your experiences. The answers to these questions will help the BABCP SIG plan how to meet CPD topics and other developments within the SIG.  The SIG hope to produce a write up of the answers to this questionnaire to be shared with SIG members and to be used in training.

View Survey

This FREE conference is for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners working in Talking Therapies for Anxiety and Depression services and is brought to you by Bespoke Mental Health in collaboration with the NHS England Talking Therapies National PWP Leads Network

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