Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph Hammer

Second Advisor

Dr. Sharon Rostosky


Without intervention, most distressed couples will not see relationship quality improvement. Couple therapy has demonstrated efficacy, yet many distressed couples are reluctant to access these services. Despite this well-documented treatment gap, limited research exists on why relationally distressed individuals in relationships do or do not seek couple therapy. An unexplored avenue to increasing couple help seeking is leveraging research and theory on why couples stay together (i.e., relationship-based motives). Interdependence theory and Investment Model of Commitment posit that couples persist in relationships for both self-focused (i.e., commitment, positive and negative relationship quality) and partner-focused relationship reasons (i.e., perceived partner commitment, perceived partner support). To address this gap, the current study used the theory of planned behavior (TPB) within an alternative structural equation model testing framework to examine the links between self/partner-focused relationship motives and intention to seek couple therapy in a sample of 288 relationally distressed individuals. Key findings included: people highly committed to their relationship were both more (via indirect effects) and less (via direct effect) likely to intend to seek couple therapy; the absence of positive relationship quality and presence of negative relationship quality were associated with greater intention; perceiving one’s partner as not committed to the relationship increased intention, and perceiving one’s partner as supportive of couple therapy increased one’s own intention to seek couple therapy. Our results indicate that targeting relationship-based motivations could potentially improve the perceptions of couple therapy amongst individuals experiencing relationship distress.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)