Approximately two-thirds of Americans will live with a romantic partner at some point in their lives, and 75% of individuals marry by age 30. Unfortunately, relationship dissatisfaction is a common occurrence, with as many as one-third of couples reporting relationship distress. Although many forms of couple therapy are effective for improving relationship satisfaction and reduces the risk of divorce among distressed couples, no one form of couple therapy has clearly been established as superior. Moreover, relatively little is known about how and why couple therapy has its effects. Improved understanding of what change may occur, as well as common trajectories of change in couple therapy, would greatly enhance process research on therapy for couple distress. The current study is the only known application of dynamical systems analysis (DSA) and related graphical methods to examining processes of change in couple therapy. In the current study, we investigate the possibility that within-partner therapeutic change in relationship satisfaction may follow a nonlinear or complex trajectory. Moreover, as objects in a system are likely to interact, psychological variables in members of a system are also likely to be reciprocal or bidirectional. Thus, we also investigate how level of or change in one partner’s satisfaction may affect the other’s, and how the strength of this relation may evolve over time, as the degree of synchrony or interdependence between partners may change over the course of therapy or may be moderated by level of relationship satisfaction.

Degree Date

Fall 2019

Document Type


Degree Name





Lorelei Simpson Rowe, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Brian R. W. Baucom, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Aki Kamata, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

David Rosenfield, Ph.D.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.