Alcohol Behavioral Couple Therapy (ABCT) is an outpatient treatment for individuals with an alcohol use disorder, which includes their intimate partners in the treatment program. ABCT assumes that an individual’s alcohol use has an impact on a couple’s relationship and that this relationship conflict can similarly affect the individual’s alcohol use. Based on social learning theory and the family systems model, ABCT incorporates communication, problem-solving, self-control, and contingency-management skills to maintain abstinence from substance use and promote healthy relationship functioning.
ABCT begins with a 2–3-hour assessment for detailed treatment planning to determine contributing factors to alcohol use, the state of the relationship, and the reason for abstinence. The treatment planning is followed by 12–20 weekly sessions of up to 90 minutes each, with both the client and intimate partner. ABCT sessions include several treatment elements to a) identify and decrease the behaviors that cue or reinforce the individual's alcohol use, b) strengthen the intimate partner's support of the individual's abstinence efforts, c) increase healthy relationship functioning by improving communication and problem-solving skills, and d) improve the individual's coping and relapse-prevention skills to maintain abstinence.