Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Galen Alessi

Second Advisor

Dr. Amy Naugle

Third Advisor

Dr. Scott Gaynor

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Karen Blaisure


The present study examined empirically the immediate and short-term therapeutic effects of the internalized-other interview (Tomm, 1996) with couples during a single session and compared it with the standard method of interviewing couples (i.e., treatment as usual). Thirty-two married couples (N = 64 participants) were randomly assigned into one of two conditions (internalized-other versus standard interviewing). Couples attended an initial interview session and two follow-ups (one and four-weeks respectively). Self-reported measures of session impact were taken immediately after the session, while self-reported measures of marital satisfaction, intimacy, closeness and empathy were taken at baseline (before the session) and during follow-up sessions one and two (one and four weeks post-baseline respectively).

Data suggested that both interviewing conditions yielded a positive therapeutic impact on couples following the session. No statistical significant differences were detected between the two groups or between the two genders. However, among some of the session impact measures, a gender x experimental condition interaction was found. Specifically, males in the standard interviewing condition reported higher satisfaction and greater session helpfulness than males in the internalized-other interviewing condition. Conversely, females in the internalized-other interviewing condition reported higher satisfaction and greater session helpfulness than females in the standard interviewing condition.

Additionally, data showed that both treatment conditions resulted in statistically significant short-term therapeutic effects (i.e., improvement from pre-session baseline to one and four-week follow-up sessions) with respect to marital satisfaction, intimacy, closeness and empathy. Possible interpretations of these results and the identification of areas for further investigation are discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access