Traditional behavioral couple therapy (TBCT) is a treatment for relationship distress. Previously referred to as behavioral marital therapy and behavioral couple therapy, TBCT was developed in the 1970s by Neil Jacobson and Gayla Margolin. TBCT is based on the premise that partners in distressed relationships have low rates of rewarding exchanges and/or high rates of punishing exchanges, resulting from skills deficits.

According to the TBCT model, there are a number of skills deficits that may lead initially happy couples to become distressed over time. For example, some couples lack the ability to flexibly adapt their behavior in response to conflict; instead, they resort to attempts to change the other’s behavior through coercive methods (behavior change deficits). Other couples experience reinforcement erosion, wherein the previously rewarding behaviors ...

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