Combat deployments by military personnel such as to Iraq (OIF) and Afghanistan (OEF) involve long separation from spouses, financial / social strain for the partner at home, and often combat trauma to the deployed partner. These can cause negative effects on relationship quality in some couples. Our clinical research group and others across the country have explored using mindfulness, loving-kindness, and compassion training with OEF/OIF combat veterans with stress and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and have found to be acceptable to veterans and beneficial. We have also reported changes in brain connectivity following mindfulness training in veterans with PTSD linked to improvement in their PTSD symptoms. In this study we will develop a new couples group intervention for OEF/OIF veterans (“Mindfulness, Love, & Compassion for Couples”, MLCC), conduct four “pilot groups” of MLCC, and test effects on self and partner ratings of psychological stress, compassion, and quality of relationship measures, and observed laboratory ratings of empathic marital behaviors during an argument. With our fourth pilot group, we also plan to conduct fMRI scans before and after the group, to look at the effects of MLCC on brain connectivity at rest and when purposely invoking a sense of love for one’s spouse.

Anthony King, PhD

University of Michigan

Grantee, Reviewer

Anthony King, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at University of Michigan Medical School, and faculty associate of Institute for Social Research (ISR) and Trauma, Stress, and Anxiety Research Group, is … MORE