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Why couples therapy has such an important role in physical as well as mental health support

By Andrew Balfour, CEO of Tavistock Relationships

1 May 2019

Our new research, carried out with Kings’ College London and published in the Journal of Health Psychology, shines a light on the importance of couple relationships in improving psychological and physical health for Type 1 diabetes sufferers.

The study, entitled Couples living with Type 1 diabetes: An integrative review of the impacts on health and wellbeing, highlights the use of the couple relationship as a valuable resource, when one partner is experiencing health difficulties. It concludes that maintaining a resilient and good quality relationship may be important in terms of physical and psychological outcomes for people living with diabetes, with healthy relationships predicting better diabetes management.

The impacts of Type 1 diabetes and relationship factors on the health and wellbeing of both people with diabetes and their partners had not previously been investigated, but this analysis suggests that in couples where one partner has diabetes, receiving relationship support, in addition to other forms of treatments, may be beneficial.

Whilst further research on this important area is clearly needed, this review of the evidence suggests that to optimise physical and psychological outcomes for people living with diabetes, directors of public health, health and social care commissioners, and health and wellbeing boards should put couple relationship support centre stage as they undertake joint strategic needs assessments and prepare their commissioning plans.

The full research article is available here:

If you would like to talk about any relationship issues with one of our counsellors please contact our helpful clinical team by emailing