Individual Motivation To Seek Couple Therapy:  An Application of the Health Belief Model

dc.contributor.authorO'Connell, Lyn Mooreen
dc.contributor.committeechairDolbin-MacNab, Megan L.en
dc.contributor.committeememberCase Pease, Jeneneen
dc.contributor.committeememberGrafsky, Erika L.en
dc.contributor.committeememberTambling, Rachel B.en
dc.contributor.departmentAdult Learning and Human Resource Developmenten
dc.description.abstractDespite the well-established effectiveness of couple therapy for reducing distress and improving relationship satisfaction (Cohen, 1988; Christensen and Heavey, 1999), less than a fourth of couples seek couple therapy prior to divorce (Albrecht, Bahr, and Goodman, 1983; Wolcott, 1986). Rather, the majority of couples wait over 5 years before seeking therapy (Johnson et al., 2002). Barriers to seeking individual therapy are well established and are associated with decreased rates of therapy attendance and the negative consequences of untreated distress and mental health problems (Corrigan, 2004; Killaspy, Banerjee, King, and Lloyd, 2000; Vogel, Wade and Hackler, 2007). It is unclear as to whether the same barriers exist for individuals who are seeking couple therapy. This study examined the applicability of the Health Belief Model (HBM; Rosenstock, 1966), with the addition of demographic characteristics (gender, income, education, and religion) and contextualizing individual factors (relational distress and perceived stigma), to predict an individual in a committed relationship's (N =158) motivation to seek couple therapy. When controlling for demographic variables and contextualizing factors, the Health Belief Model factors of lower barriers and lower benefits were predictive of higher motivation to seek couple therapy. Throughout all iterations of the model, lower income and lower relational distress were also associated with higher rates of motivation to seek couple therapy. This research indicates that barriers, including high levels of relational distress, impact an individual's motivation to seek couple therapy. Further investigation of the application of the HBM factors to mental health, including research into more systemic measurements of these factors, is needed. Future research should also identify other potentially contextualizing factors, as the overall model accounted for a relatively small amount of variation in the individual's motivation to seek couple therapy.en
dc.description.abstractgeneralCouple therapy has been shown to provide relief for relationship distress and individual mental health problems (Cohen, 1988; Christensen & Heavey, 1999). Despite this, the majority of couples choose to either live with relationship distress prior to seeking couple therapy or never seek treatment prior to getting divorced (Albrecht, Bahr, & Goodman, 1983; Gottman & Gottman, 2013; Johnson et al., 2002; Wolcott, 1986). Unfortunately, very little is known about the reasons couples avoid couple therapy; therefore, this research is based on the established barriers found in the literature on why individuals do not seek mental health treatment. Because of the inclusion of an established help-seeking theory, known as the Health Belief Model (HBM; Rosenstock, 1966), the results of this study can more broadly inform individuals, couples, therapists, and policy makers about the reasons individuals may not seek couple therapy. An online survey of 158 couples indicated that higher levels of relationship satisfaction, lower income levels, lower perceived benefits to couple therapy, and lower perceived barriers to accessing treatment were associated with higher motivation to seek couple therapy. Overall, research should continue to examine the application of the Health Belief Model constructs (perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, and cues to action) to mental health seeking behavior, especially couple and family therapy. Research should also identify other potential constructs, beyond those used in this study (gender, income, education, religion, self-stigma, and relational distress), that impact an individual’s motivation to seek couple therapy.en
dc.description.degreePh. D.en
dc.publisherVirginia Techen
dc.rightsIn Copyrighten
dc.subjectCouple Therapyen
dc.subjectMotivation to Changeen
dc.subjectHealth Belief Modelen
dc.titleIndividual Motivation To Seek Couple Therapy:  An Application of the Health Belief Modelen
dc.typeDissertationen Developmenten Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen D.en


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