Couple therapy ranks among the most frequently and diligently researched topics in Marital and Family therapy (MFT). Additionally, intimate partner relationships are a key focal point for clinical intervention with increasingly more couples seeking therapy to address relational conflict, repair emotional injury, and increase intimacy (Lebow, Chambers, Christensen, & Johnson 2012). Rigorous empirical inquiry has suggested that attachment theory is a crucial foundation to understanding relationship distress and increasing relationship satisfaction (Wiebe & Johnson, 2016). Secure attachment between intimate partners can lead to an increase in trust (Pistole, 1993), healthy emotion regulation (Kobak & Hazan, 1991), and positive conflict resolution strategies (Feeny, 1998), resulting in higher overall relationship satisfaction, quality, and stability (Kirkpatrick & Davis, 1994; Simpson, 1990). However, research on attachment as a foundational pillar to relationship satisfaction has been largely correlational and conceptual. Therefore, there is a need to understand the causal link between attachment and relationship satisfaction. Aim one of this dissertation will address this gap in the literature by using a sophisticated Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM; Kenny, Kashy, & Cook, 2006) cross-lagged design to determine the causal link between attachment and relationship satisfaction using data from linked dyads in the Marine Corps. This study uses a longitudinal design with data collection taking place at four time points. Aim two uses Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT; Johnson, 2004) as a case example to highlight the need for dyadic research in MFT to strengthen the body of research for evidence-based practice and to address the gap between research evidence and clinician application.

LLU Discipline

Marital and Family Therapy


Marital and Family Therapy


School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Distelberg, Brian J.

Second Advisor

Furrow, James L.

Third Advisor

Huenergardt, Douglas

Fourth Advisor

Moline, Mary M.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Couples Therapy; Marital Therapy; Object Attachment

Subject - Local

Intimate Partner Relationships; Relational Conflict; Emotion Regulation; Conflict Resolution;



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives