Couple Therapy for Depression (CTfD) is an integrative, behaviourally-based talking therapy designed to treat depression in couples where there is also relationship distress. It is one of the high-intensity therapies offered in IAPT services, and, according NHS Digital Data, is the most effective of all talking therapies delivered in these services. It helps people recover from depression and, notably, also anxiety. In fact, it has achieved the highest recovery rate for depression and anxiety of all talking therapies delivered in the Governments IAPT service for three consecutive years (NHS Digital data for 2014/15, 2015/16 & 2016/17).

Research undertaken here at Tavistock Relationships now gives us further evidence that the degree to which people are satisfied with their relationship predicts recovery from depression and anxiety. This research was based on 200 patients where one or both were diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety; in each case the couple received Couple Therapy for Depression from the NHS. The results provide strong evidence of the benefits of this kind therapy for the treatment of both relationship distress and depression.

We feel that these results are important because so little Couple Therapy for Depression is available in the NHS. This is a great pity, as we know that relationship issues are a huge driver of depression, and that the social, environmental, relational and physical triggers for depression can strike couples at any point in their lives.


"We now have a better understanding of how our behaviour impacts on our partner," say Donald and Carol, who received Couple Therapy for Depression through an NHS IAPT service. "Before receiving this help, we could unintentionally create stress in our relationship for each other."

"Our communication was much improved by the end of the sessions, something which was inspired by the problem-solving exercises, which showed our willingness to work together and that in itself was important. We now have those skills and techniques to use again for the future."

Despite overwhelming evidence of the effectiveness of this form of therapy, only 49% of IAPT services across the country offer it. We are calling for nine out of 10 IAPT services to provide Couple Therapy for Depression by 2024, and we would like to see more therapists trained in this intervention so that more couples can benefit.

If you’d like to undertake this training, please do get in touch and we can work together to get your training scheduled and funded. Email us at or call us on 020 7380 8288.

For more information, go to

*Data derived from:  

**More information about our recent in-house study of the results of IAPT’s CTfD service is available here