Behavioural Couple Therapy for Depression

Behavioural Couple Therapy (BCT) for depression is a brief (typically about 12 sessions) treatment for people in committed relationships where there is both relationship distress, and depression in one or both partners. BCT is recommended by NICE as one of the evidence-based treatments for depression. There is also some evidence that this form of therapy can be helpful where either or both partners are experiencing anxiety.

BCT for depression focuses on the aspects of depression that concern others around you and on factors that reduce stress and increase support within the couple. BCT usually works best when both partners are interested and willing to work on improving their relationship and supporting one another.

This could include goals such as improving communication, managing feelings, changing behaviour, enhancing problem-solving skills and promoting acceptance within the couple. It is quite an ‘active’ form of therapy and couples are often asked to do ‘homework’ between sessions.

Couple therapy can be helpful for all kinds of committed relationships, including same-sex relationships. We would like to encourage referrals for couple therapy from the local LGBTQ+ community.

In addition to intensive regular couple therapy sessions, we also offer a weekend workshop for couples which focuses on teaching skills such as how to share thoughts and feelings helpfully and how to tackle problems together as a team. We usually recommend that couples attend this workshop prior to the intensive couple therapy sessions as it can provide a good introduction to the techniques and strategies that will be taught in therapy sessions.


Suggested reading for couples:

    • Overcoming Relationship Problems: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques by Michael Crowe
    • Couples and depression: Improving the relationship and improving depression. A chapter by Donald Baucom, Tamara Sher, Sara Boeding, and Christine Paprocki in “The Complete CBT Guide for Depression and Low Mood” by Lee Brosan and David Westbrook.
    • Reconcilable Differences by Andrew Christensen and Neil Jacobsen
    • After the Affair by Janis Spring
    • Overcoming Sexual Problems by Vicki Ford
    • The Relate Guide to Sex in Loving Relationships by Sarah Litvinoff
    • Stop Arguing, Start Talking: The 10 Point Plan for Couples in Conflict by Susan Quilliam
    • Getting Past the Affair: A Program to Help You Cope, Heal, and Move On – Together or Apart by Douglas Snyder, Donald Baucom and Kristina Coop Gordon
    • Happy together: Thriving as a same-sex couple in your family, workplace, and community by S Rostosky and E Riggle