Effectiveness of the Treatment Through Self-Differentiation on the Couples’ Marital Intimacy and Adjustment

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD Student in Counseling, Islamic Azad University of Isfahan (Khorasgan Branch), Isfahan, Iran.

2 Full Professor, Department of Counseling, Allameh Tabatabai University, Tehran, Iran

3 Professor, Department of Educational Science and Psychology, Isfahan (Khorasgan) Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran.


Introduction and purpose: the presence of intimacy and adjustment between the couples causes the family stability and the couples’ and children’s health. Therefore, the present study was conducted with the aim of investigating the effectiveness of the treatment through self-differentiation on the couples’ marital intimacy and adjustment.
Material and methods: it was an applied study in case of purpose and quasi-experimental in case of data collection method with pretest, posttest, control group and two-month follow-up design. The statistical population of the study included all the couples who referred to Healthy Family Consultation Center in the city of Qom in 2017. 16 couples (8 women and 8 men) who were willing to participate in the study were selected through convenient method and accommodated into experimental and control groups (each group of 8). The experimental group underwent 10 sessions of self-differentiation treatment during two-and-a-half months, while the control group didn’t receive the aforementioned interventions. The applied questionnaires included marital conflict questionnaire (Barati and Sanaei, 1998), marital intimacy questionnaire (Bagarouzi, 2001) and marital adaptation questionnaire (Spinner, 1976). The data from the study were analyzed through repeated measurement ANOVA method.
Findings: the results showed that the treatment through self-differentiation method has significant effect on the couples’ marital intimacy and adaptation (p<0.001) such that it succeeded in the improvement of the couples’ marital intimacy (effect size 66%) and adaptation (effect size 66%).
Conclusion: the findings of the present study indicated that the treatment through self-differentiation can be applied as an efficient method to improve the couples’ marital intimacy and adaptation through utilizing techniques such as fusion, making the couples aware of triangulation, explaining familial projection and the concept of affective cut.


Baum, N., Shnit, D. (2005). Self- differentiation and narcissism in divorced parent's co-parental relationships and
functioning. Journal of Divoyce & Remarriage, 42, 33- 55.
Bayerman, S., Kleverson, E. (2014). Family therapy and Self Differentiation in women with and without mental
disorders .Procedia social and Behavioral Sciences, 2 (11), 223-232.
Cirhinlioglu, F.G., Tepe, Y.K., Cirhinlioglu, Z. (2017). Psychological distress, self esteem and emotional dependency
of married individuals as predictors of marital adjustment. Procedia Computer Science, 120, 164-171.
Crago, H. (2006). Couple, Family and Group Work: First step in interpersonal intervention. Open University press.
Crago, H. (2006). Couple, Family and Group Work: First step in interpersonal intervention. Open University press.
Cribbet, M.R., Smith, T.W., Uchino, B.N., Baucom, B.R.W., Nealey-Moore, J.B. (2020). Autonomic influences on
heart rate during marital conflict: Associations with high frequency heart rate variability and cardiac pre-ejection
period. Biological Psychology, 151, 107-112.
Goldfarb, M.R., Trudel, G., Boyer, R., Préville, M. (2019). Till depression do us part? Examining the prospective
associations between depression and marital adjustment in older adults. European Review of Applied
Psychology, 69(2), 41-49.
Jenkins, S.M ., Buboltz J.R., W.C., Schwartz, J.P., & Johnson, P. (2005). Differentiation of self and psychology
development. Contemporary Family Therapy, 27, 251-261.
Li, X., Liu, Q. (2020). Parent–grandparent coparenting relationship, marital conflict and parent–child relationship in
Chinese parent–grandparent coparenting families. Children and Youth Services Review, 109, 104-110.
Marguerite, K., Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J., Boislard, M. (2012). Identity, intimacy, status and sex dating goals as
correlates of goal-consistent behavior and satisfaction in Australian youth. Journal of Adolescence, 15, 1–14.
Papko, O. (2004). Differentiation and test anxiety in adolescents, University of Haifa. Journal of Adolescents, 27, 645-
Patrick, S., Sells, J.N., Giordano, F.G. & Tollerud, T.R. (2007). Intimacy, differentiation, and personality variables as
predictorsof marital satisfaction.Journal of Familytherapy,15, 359-367.
Peleg, O. (2008). The relation between differentiation of self and marital satisfaction: what can be learned from married
people over the course of life? The American journal of Family Therapy, 36, 388- 401.
Simon, H.L.M., DiPlacido, J., Conway, J.M. (2019). Attachment styles in college students and depression: The
mediating role of self differentiation. Mental Health & Prevention, 13., 135-142.
Weeks, N., Gerald, R., Fife, B., & Stephan, T. (2009) Rebuilding intimacy following in idently. Psychotherapy in
Australia, 15, 207-216.
Wilson, S.J., Andridge, R., Peng, J, Bailey, B.E., Malarkey, W.B., Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K. (2017). Thoughts after marital
conflict and punch biopsy wounds: Age-graded pathways to healing. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 85, 6-13.