Tavistock Relationships has completed research in Parents in Conflict, Time-Limited Couple Psychotherapy and Parenting Support in Partnership with Greenwich Mind programmes. 

The Parents in Conflict Study: Putting Children First - A Random Allocation Feasibility Study, 2010-2014

Between 2010 and 2014 Tavistock Relationships undertook a robust, random allocation feasibility study comparing two interventions for parents in post-separation, entrenched conflict over their children. One arm of the study offered parents a brief psychological therapy based on mentalization based treatment principles which was developed by Tavistock Relationships with support from Professor Mary Target. Parents were offered 6-12 sessions with parents attending sessions together. The other arm of the study was a parent education programme based on the nationally available 'Separated Parents Information Programme'. This offered a two-hour session which parents attended separately. This was a unique research study and to our knowledge, the only random allocation intervention study worldwide undertaken with this population and certainly the only study of its kind to engage both parents using mixed methods, bringing together quantitative and qualitative findings. 

To read the full briefing of the study click here

Time-Limited Couple Psychotherapy: An Outcome Study, 2001-2003

A Tavistock Relationships outcome study of the effectiveness of couple psychotherapy was published 2011 in the British Psychological Society's journal, Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. This study was led by Tavistock Relationships staff, Monica Lanman and Andrew Balfour who examined work with 18 couples, employing various measures which, while not in the context of a full controlled trial, produced interesting results. In this study, a time limit of 40 sessions was imposed on the Psychodynamic therapy to improve comparability with other therapeutic approaches.

Results showed that couples improved on measures of interpersonal relating using the Personal Relatedness Profile (PRP) (Hobson, Patrick and Valentine 1998) adapted for couples (Lanman, Grier and Evans 2003) at the end of the therapy, and also showed improvements in psychological state on the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation (CORE) measure (Evans et al 2000) at both mid-point and at the end of therapy. The Couple PRP indicated significant improvement after 40 sessions. CORE showed significant improvement at both 20 and 40 sessions.

This is a unique study of psychotherapy outcome, combining observer, therapist and client ratings and using both novel measures developed to capture psychodynamic change as well as established psychometric measures. It provides indicative evidence for the effectiveness of psychodynamic couple psychotherapy, and offers a model for future outcome studies in this field.


The Couple PRP and CORE provide evidence for the effectiveness of 40-session couple psychotherapy, and provide some convergent validation for the utility of the Couple PRP as a measure of change.

Balfour, A. and Lanman, M. (2011). An Evaluation of Time-Limited Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for Couples: A Pilot Study. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 83(3), 292-309.

Parenting Support in Partnership with Greenwich Mind, 2008-2009

In 2006 with a grant from the DCSF's Parenting Fund there was an opportunity to extend the services being offered to parents to include support for the couple relationship. The project was evaluated by Christopher Clulow (Senior Fellow, The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships) and managed by Miriam Donaghy (Greenwich Mind).

The results of this partnership project are recorded separately on this website, and were published in 2010 (Clulow, C. & Donaghy, M). Developing the couple perspective in parenting support: evaluation of a service initiative for vulnerable families. Jnl of Family Therapy 32(2): 142-168). The main service not evaluated in the initial project was postnatal counselling for depressed mothers. This report makes good the gap and summarises the outcomes from a 9 month project also supported by the Parenting Fund.

Clulow, C. & Donaghy, M. (2010) Developing the couple perspective in parenting support: evaluation of a service initiative for vulnerable families. Journal of Family Therapy 32(2): 142-168.

Previous Research also includes:

  • Impact of child bereavement

  • Impact of birth of the first child

  • Impact of infertility

  • Impact of unemployment

  • Impact of Adult Attachment Status on couple relationships.