Background: So far, there is a lack of studies in couple therapy, especially in older age groups. Past studies have primarily focused on couples of younger or middle age and on the specific topics in this partnership period. Empirical studies on individual expectations and procedure of this exceptional therapy method are especially missing in German speaking countries.
Methods: The current online study examined 174 German participants who were 60 years or older and had been living in a stable relationship for at least half a year. The author combined both the topics of couple therapy research and couple research: Experience values, attitudes and expectations regarding couple therapy and the willingness to participate in couple therapy was recorded. In addition, the online survey included questions regarding relationship conflicts as well as the importance of sexuality in older couples, relationship quality, self-image in old age, and personality traits such as openness (Big Five).
Results: The participants described a high level of satisfaction in their couple relationship and with their age or aging. Openness proved to be the significant predictor for the willingness to participate in couple therapy in case of a couple conflict. The prevalence of conflicts of the participants is rather low. Interestingly, the meaning of sexuality is of minor importance compared to the broad possible spectrum of relevant conflicts
in couples. Further, positive experienced relationship quality is associated with a positive experienced self-image in older age.
Conclusions: The interviewees would prefer age-related couple therapy. High relationship or partnership quality could support a positive self-image in old age (and vice versa); both aspects could be important protective factors especially in older age. Successful couple therapy could show a positive effect on both influencing variables. Cost coverage of therapy services by health insurance companies could generate a greater willingness to participate in couple therapy. The study results show a variety of links, starting points, topics and questions for future research, e.g. couple therapy as a prevention possibility for diseases, customized couple therapy for older same-sex couples or special training for couple therapists. Future scientific studies should further focus on couple therapy and couple relationship among older individuals due to demographic development and aging as well as the increasing importance of age research.
Paartherapie bei älteren Paaren – Erfahrungswerte, Einstellungen und Erwartungshaltungen
- PhD thesis
- Social science -- Psychology