Title

Romantic Attachment and Relational Ethics in Other-Sex, Cisgender Couples in Therapy

Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Marriage and Family Therapy

Advisor(s)

Rashmi Gangamma

Second Advisor

Deb Coolhart

Keywords

couples therapy, relational ethics, romantic attachment

Subject Categories

Counseling | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

The present study sought to investigate a correlation between adult romantic attachment (RA) and relational ethics (RE) in other-sex, cisgender couples in therapy, in order to link attachment theory and Boszormenyi-Nagy’s contextual theory of therapy. Data were collected from couples seeking services at the Syracuse University Couple and Family Therapy Center. Instruments used included the Experiences in Close Relationships Revised Short Form (ECR-R-S) and the Relational Ethics Scale (RES). The research question sought to determine whether a correlation exists between RA and RE. Findings offer unique perspectives on attachment and contextual theories and their potential for parallel or integrated implementation in therapy. Findings of this study, while still tentative given a limited sample size, point towards some level of association between the ECR-R-S and RES scales which partially satisfies the original research question. A case vignette is included as an example for clinical integration of RA and RE by merging contextual therapy theory and Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT), an attachment based therapy approach. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.

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