Steffany J. Fredman
Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
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; Fredman, Vorstenbosch, Wagner, Macdonald, & Monson, 2014). 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 well-being.
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 in special contexts when trauma survivors and their loves one may be relatively more receptive to intervention. To this end, I am currently collaborating with colleagues from Penn State (HDFS, Psychology, Biobehavioral Health, Family and Youth Resiliency and Policy) to conduct both basic and intervention research on student service members/veterans with elevated PTSD symptoms who are partnered and couples in which one partner has PTSD symptoms and are expecting a child or have recently become parents.
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
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
Fredman, S. J., Baucom, D. H., Boeding, S., & Miklowitz, D. J. (in press). Relatives’ emotional involvement moderates the effects of family therapy for bipolar disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
Fredman, S. J., Vorstenbosch, V., Wagner, A. C., Macdonald, A., & Monson, C. M. (2014). Partner accommodation in posttraumatic stress disorder: Initial testing of the Significant Others’ Response to Trauma Scale (SORTS). Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 28, 372-381. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2014.04.001
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., 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: 10.1037/0893-318.104.22.168
Steffany Fredman vitae
- Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development
- Domains of Health and Behavior
- Contexts and Social Institutions