We-Talk, Communal Coping, and Alcohol Abstinence During Couple-Focused Interventions for Problem Drinkers
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractFirst-person plural pronoun use (we-talk) by couples may be an implicit marker of communal coping, a process by which partners view a problem or stressor as "ours" rather than "yours" or "mine", and is associated with adaptive relationship functioning and individual health outcomes (Lyons, Mickelson, Sullivan, & Coyne, 1998). The present study examined we-talk in couples undergoing treatment for problematic alcohol use, hypothesizing that greater we-talk during therapy would be associated with successful drinking outcomes for patients. Thirty-three couples with male partners who had problematic alcohol use participated in either couple-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Family Systems Therapy (FST). Transcripts of couples’ speech, derived from a baseline interaction task and two subsequent therapy sessions and analyzed using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software, provided measures of pronoun use for each partner. Results indicated that greater spouse we-talk at baseline was associated with successful drinking outcomes for patients at therapy termination. Increases in couple we-talk during therapy also predicted successful drinking outcomes, and for couples participating in the CBT, greater we-talk mid-therapy predicted successful outcomes. These findings provide additional evidence for the prognostic significance of couple we-talk and communal coping as a possible mechanism of change in couple-focused interventions.
Degree ProgramHonors College