The effects of trauma on intimate relationships: A qualitative study with clinical couples

Briana S.Nelson Goff, Allison M.J. Reisbig, Amy Bole, Tamera Scheer, Everett Hayes, Kristy L. Archuleta, Stacey Blalock Henry, Carol B. Hoheisel, Ben Nye, Jamie Osby, Erin Sanders-Hahs, Kami L. Schwerdtfeger, Douglas B. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Research has traditionally focused on the development of symptoms in those who experienced trauma directly but has overlooked the impact of trauma on victims' families. In recent years, researchers and clinicians have begun to examine how individual exposure to traumatic events affects the spouses or partners, children, and professional helpers of trauma survivors. The current study examines qualitative interview data from 17 individuals, analyzed using a retroductive methodology to identify how intimate relationships are affected when there is a history of trauma exposure. The following primary themes were identified: increased communication, decreased communication, increased cohesion/connection, decreased cohesion/connection, increased understanding, decreased understanding, sexual intimacy problems, symptoms of relationship distress, support from partner, and relationship resources. Areas for future research and clinical implications are identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-460
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Couples
  • Intimate relationships
  • Retroductive qualitative analysis
  • Trauma exposure
  • Traumatic stress


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