Depression, Anxiety, Relationship Distress and Couples

Principal Investigator

Lynne Knobloch-Fedders, PhD
Licensed Clinical Psychologist, The Family Institute at Northwestern University
Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

The strong links between relationship distress, depression, and anxiety, along with limitations in current theory, research, and intervention, point to the need for a comprehensive, integrated system of interpersonal assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. This project, directed by Dr. Lynne Knobloch-Fedders, applies interpersonal theory to the study of couples in which one partner suffers from depression or anxiety. The goal of this research is to develop a more comprehensive system of assessment, intervention, and outcome evaluation.

Dr. Knobloch-Fedders has conducted research comparing the interpersonal behavior of distressed couples with and without a depressed and / or anxious partner. In a second study, the process and outcome of an integrative couples therapy used to treat these couples has been investigated. The study is designed to correlate treatment process and outcome with changes in maladaptive interpersonal behavior over the course of therapy.

Data from this study will be used to identify patterns of patient change and therapist behavior that can become the basis for a new, more effective treatment for adults suffering from depression and / or anxiety in distressed romantic relationships.

Researcher Bio

Dr. Lynne Knobloch-Fedders is Licensed Clinical Psychologist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology and theology from Marquette University in 1996, received her PhD in clinical psychology in 2001 from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and completed the John J.B. Morgan Postgraduate Fellowship at The Family Institute at Northwestern University in 2003, specializing in couple and family therapy and applied clinical research.

Dr. Knobloch-Fedders conducts research in three related areas. Her primary program of research, Depression, Anxiety, and Relationship Distress in Couples. investigates the ways in which couples' interpersonal behavior is associated with depression, anxiety, and relationship distress. She is particularly interested in how these factors predict treatment response in couple psychotherapy. In 2004, Dr. Knobloch-Fedders received the Randy Gerson Memorial Research Award from the American Psychology Foundation to support this work.

A second line of Dr. Knobloch-Fedders’ research explores the process of reintegration for military couples and families after soldiers return home from deployment. In 2013, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of California at Los Angeles, Dr. Knobloch-Fedders was awarded a four-year research grant by the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) to study the reintegration difficulty of military couples following deployment.

Finally, Dr. Knobloch also collaborates on The Family Institute’s Psychotherapy Change Project, with a particular interest in understanding how relationships between therapists and patients are associated with treatment response in individual, couple, and family psychotherapy.

Dr. Knobloch-Fedders’ research has appeared in academic journals such as the Journal of Counseling Psychology, Journal of Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy Research, Family Process,, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and Communication Monographs. She is also member of the editorial board of Family Process.

Knobloch-Fedders, L.M., Pinsof, W.M., & Haase, C. (in press). Treatment response in couple therapy: Relationship adjustment and individual functioning change processes. Journal of Family Psychology.
Knobloch-Fedders, L.M., Critchfield, K.L., Boisson, T., Woods, N., Bitman, R., & Durbin, C.E. (in press). Depression, relationship quality, and couples’ demand/withdraw and demand/submit sequential interactions. Journal of Counseling Psychology.
Knobloch-Fedders, L.M., Elkin, I., & Kiesler, D.J. (2015). Looking back, looking forward: A historical perspective on psychotherapy process research. Psychotherapy Research, 25, 383-395.
Pinsof, W.M., Zinbarg, R.E., Shimokawa, K., Latta, T.A., Goldsmith, J.Z., Knobloch-Fedders, L.M., Chambers, A.L., & Lebow, J.L. (2015). Confirming, validating, and norming the factor structure of the Systemic Therapy Inventory of Change Initial and Intersession. Family Process.
Knobloch-Fedders, L.M., Knobloch, L.K., Durbin, C.E., Rosen, A., & Critchfield, K.L. (2013). Comparing the interpersonal behavior of couples with and without depression. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69, 1250-1268.
Shaikh, A., Knobloch-Fedders, L.M., & Stiles, W.B. (2013). Verbal response modes in action: Microrelationships as the building blocks of relationship role dimensions. Linguistics and Literature Studies, 1(2), 66-78.
Anderson, T., Knobloch-Fedders, L.M., & Stiles, W.B. (2012). The power of subtle interpersonal hostility in psychodynamic psychotherapy: A speech acts analysis. Psychotherapy Research, 22, 348-362.
Knobloch, L.K., Knobloch-Fedders, L.M., & Durbin, C.E. (2011). Depressive symptoms and relational uncertainty as predictors of reassurance-seeking and negative feedback-seeking in conversation. Communication Monographs, 78(4), 437-462.
Stroud, C.D., Durbin, C.E., Saigal, S.D., & Knobloch-Fedders, L.M. (2010). Normal and abnormal personality traits are associated with marital satisfaction for both men and women: An actor-partner interdependence model analysis. Journal of Research in Personality, 44, 466-477.
Knobloch, L.K., & Knobloch-Fedders, L.M. (2010). The role of relational uncertainty in depressive symptoms and relationship quality: An actor-partner interdependence model. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 27, 137-159.
Knobloch-Fedders, L.M., & Knudson, R.M. (2009). Marital ideals of the newly-married: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26(2-3), 249-271.

For more information about the Depression, Anxiety, Relationship Distress and Couples project, contact Dr. Lynne-Knobloch-Fedders at 847-733-4300, ext. 796.

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