Control patterns in dyadic systems: Marital group psychotherapy as change agent

Anne k. McCarrick, Ronald W. Manderscheid, Sam Silbergeld, Jennie J. McIntyre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Control is an important aspect of relationship definition in marriage. Prior theory and research suggest that control flexibility is preferable to rigid symmetry or complementarity. The present purpose is to examine changes in response control patterns exhibited by five married couples who participated in two, brief psychotherapy groups. Since control is conceptualized as a relational phenomenon, the Ericson-Rogers Relational Coding System has been used to score the control direction of interactions between group members. Resulting data were subsequently analyzed through a log-linear procedure. Findings indicate that initial responses to spouse and to other group members were likely to reflect rigid competitiveness or complementarity. Generally, individual flexibility-the capability of responding in a variety of ways-increased for each of these relationships over the course of group psychotherapy. One may infer that the therapy enhanced the flexibility of response control patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-14
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Family Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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