Steffany J. Fredman 

photo of Steffany Fredman

Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

Contact Information

304A HHDev-East

914-867-5296

sjf23@psu.edu

Research Interests

My research focuses on the intersection between individual psychopathology (emphasis on posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders) and couple/family functioning. Broadly speaking, my work seeks to enhance understanding of the ways that intimate relationships affect, and are affected by, the presence of mental health problems in one member of a dyad or family system and how involving intimate others can improve individual and relationship outcomes for those with mental health difficulties and their loved ones.

With respect to couple-based interventions for individual psychopathology, I am the co-developer of Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy for PTSD (CBCT for PTSD; Monson & Fredman, 2012), a couple-based therapy designed to simultaneously improve PTSD symptoms and enhance intimate relationship functioning. I am also interested in understanding well-intended but unhelpful behaviors that partners and other family members sometimes exhibit in response to living with a loved one with a mental health problem. One such set of behaviors is partner accommodation to PTSD symptoms (e.g., attempts to protect the trauma survivor from stress by taking over chores or responsibilities, not expressing one’s own thoughts and feelings due to fears of provoking PTSD-related anger or irritability, and/or engaging in couple-level avoidance of places or situations that are uncomfortable for the traumatized individual). We have found that partner accommodation to PTSD symptoms is associated with greater PTSD and depressive severity in patients and lower levels of patient and partner relationship satisfaction but may be mitigated by couple/family therapy designed to address the intersection between PTSD and couple functioning (i.e., CBCT for PTSD). Ongoing areas of research include partner accommodation and other relationship constructs in the context of PTSD, depression, and grief in both military and civilian samples and their associations with patient, partner, and child wellbeing.

My research also includes the study of relationship variables that facilitate or impede recovery following trauma exposure. In addition to conducting basic research on aspects of intimate relationships that are associated with natural recovery in PTSD symptoms after a trauma (e.g., satisfaction, communication), I am working to adapt elements of CBCT for PTSD that can be delivered relatively soon after trauma exposure to couples in which one partner has experienced a trauma in the hopes of preempting the development of chronic, long-standing PTSD and its associated relationship impairments. To this end, I am currently collaborating with colleagues from the University of Colorado-Denver and the University of Denver to create a hybrid of CBCT for PTSD and a well-validated premarital relationship enhancement program known as “PREP” for active duty service members and their partners shortly after returning from deployment in the hopes of preventing or mitigating symptoms of chronic PTSD.

Education

1996--B.A., Psychology, Amherst College
2007--Pre-Doctoral Clinical Internship, Boston Consortium in Clinical Psychology
2007--Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2010--Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Women's Health Sciences Division, VA National Center for PTSD

Professional Experience

  • 2014-Present, Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 2010-2013, Instructor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Psychology, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • 2009-2010. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine

Selected Publications

Schumm, J. A., Fredman, S. J., Monson, C. M., & Chard, K. M. (2013). Cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for PTSD: Initial findings for Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom male combat veterans and their partners. American Journal of Family Therapy, 41, 277-287.

Monson, C. M., Fredman, S. J., Macdonald, A. M., Pukay-Martin, N. D., Resick, P. A., & Schnurr, P. P. (2012). Effect of cognitive-behavioral couple therapy for PTSD: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 308, 700-709. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.9307.

Monson, C. M., & Fredman, S. J. (2012). Cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder: Harnessing the healing power of relationships. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Fredman, S. J., Monson, C. M., & Adair, K. C. (2011). Implementing cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for PTSD with the newest generation of veterans and their partners. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 18, 120-130.

Monson, C. M., Fredman, S. J., Adair, K. C., Stevens, S. P., Resick, P. A., Schnurr, P. P., MacDonald, H. Z., & Macdonald, A.. (2011). Cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for PTSD: Pilot results from a community sample. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24, 97-101. doi: 10.1002/jts.20604

Fredman, S. J., Monson, C. M., Schumm, J. A., Adair, K. C., Taft, C. T., & Resick, P. A. (2010). Associations among disaster exposure, intimate relationship adjustment, and PTSD symptoms: Can disaster exposure enhance a relationship? Journal of Traumatic Stress, 23, 446-451. doi: 10.1002/jts.20555

Fredman, S. J. (2010). Couple/family-based assessment strategies for individuals with psychological problems. In K. Hahlweg, M. Grawe-Gerber, & D. H. Baucom (Eds.). Enhancing couples: The shape of couple therapy to come. (pp. 185-198). Göttingen: Hogrefe.

Monson, C. M., Taft, C. T., & Fredman, S. J. (2009). Military-related PTSD and intimate relationships: From description to theory-driven data and intervention development. Clinical Psychology Review, 29, 707-714. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2009.09.002

Fredman, S. J., Baucom, D. H., Gremore, T. M., Castellani, A. M., Kallman, T. A., Porter, L. S., Kirby, J. S., Dees, E. C., Klauber-DeMore, N., Peppercorn, J., & Carey, L. A. (2009). Quantifying the recruitment challenges in couple-based health interventions: Application to early stage breast cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 18, 667-673. doi: 10.1002/pon.1477

Fredman, S. J., Baucom, D. H., Miklowitz, D. J., & Stanton, S. E. (2008). Observed emotional involvement and overinvolvement in families of patients with bipolar disorder. Journal of Family Psychology, 22, 71-79. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.22.1.71

Center Affiliations

  • Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development

Strategic Themes

  • Domains of Health and Behavior
  • Contexts and Social Institutions
  • Populations of Special Interest