Adult Attachment and Symptom Distress: A Dyadic Model of Couples in Therapy


Adult attachment, Couple therapy, Actor-partner interdependence model


This study used the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM; Kenny & Cook, 1996) to examine both actor and partner effects of attachment anxiety and avoidance for male and female partners simultaneously. This study offers a unique method for assessing the role of adult attachment dimensions that influence mental health symptoms in therapy. Several previous findings within the clinical and attachment literature were supported, as well as some new perspectives on attachment dimensions among couples in therapy. Actor effects of women’s anxiety and avoidance were detected in the model. Female partner effects of anxiety and avoidance on male partners’ symptom distress following four sessions of couple therapy. As well, a partner effect was indicated by men’s avoidance on female partners’ symptom distress after four sessions of therapy. Results from the exploratory factor analysis of the Experiences in Close Relationships measure (Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998) offer a means to more accurately assess attachment dimensions of couples in therapy.

Original Publication Citation

Parker, M. L., Johnson, L. N., & Ketring, S. A. (2012). Adult attachment and symptom distress: A dyadic model of couples in therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 34, 321-344. (DOI) 10.1111/j.1467-6427.2012.00598.x

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor