Home / Regular Issue / JSSH Vol. 29 (1) Mar. 2021 / JSSH-7589-2020


Effects of Acceptance and Commitment Group Therapy on Iranian Couples’ Marital Satisfaction in Malaysia

Nastaranalsadat Hosseini, Poh Li Lau, Diana Lea Baranovich, and Siaw Leng Chan

Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, Volume 29, Issue 1, March 2021

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47836/pjssh.29.1.14

Published: 26 March 2021

This study investigates the effects of Acceptance and Commitment Group Therapy (ACGT) on marital satisfaction among Iranian, postgraduate married couples residing in Malaysia. The study utilised a true experimental (pretest/posttest, control group) design. Seventy-two students (36 couples) with the lowest scores from the Marital Satisfaction Inventory were randomly selected and randomly assigned into either the experimental or control group to receive either ACGT or no therapy. Subsequently, analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) showed significant differences in marital satisfaction between the experimental and control groups. The current study finds that marital satisfaction showed considerable enhancement after the ACGT, and besides, the effects of ACGT on marital satisfaction were retained after four weeks. The evaluation of the couples of the ACGT programme was also collected, which appeared to be satisfactory. This study has significant implications for marital satisfaction and counselling practice holistically.

  • Ahangar, K., Juhari, R., Yaacob, S. N., & Talib, M. A. (2016). Demographic factors and marital satisfaction among Iranian married students in Malaysia. Asian Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 5(2), 153-163. http://www.ajssh.leena-luna.co.jp/AJSSHPDFs/Vol.5(2)/AJSSH2016(5.2-16).pdf

  • Akbari, W. (2008). The changing family patterns among immigrants: An evaluation of the causes of divorces/separation among Iranian families in Sweden. [Master’s thesis, University of Gothenburg]. Göteborgs Universitetsbibliotek. https://gupea.ub.gu.se/bitstream/2077/18688/1/gupea_2077_18688_1.pdf

  • Andersson, G., Obućina, O., & Scott, K. (2015). Marriage and divorce of immigrants and descendants of immigrants in Sweden. Demographic Research, 33, 31-64. https://doi.org/10.4054/DemRes.2015.33.2

  • Arabnejad, S., Birashk, B., & Alhosseini, K. H. A. (2014). The effectiveness of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) on increasing marital intimacy and decreasing marital conflicts between the couples of Tehran. Journal of Social Issues & Humanities, 2(8), 89-93. http://www.ijhcs.com/index.php/ijhcs/article/download/590/534

  • Asadinik, S. (2009). Differentiation of self, marital adjustment, and parental involvement among Iranian-Americans [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Alliant International University.

  • Ashdown, B. K., Hackathorn, J., & Clark, E. M., (2011). In and out of the bedroom: Sexual satisfaction in the marital relationship. Journal of Integrated Social Sciences, 2(1), 40-57. https://www.jiss.org/documents/volume_2/issue_1/JISS_2011_Sexual_Satisfaction_in_Marriage.pdf

  • Azadarmaki, T., & Bahar, M. (2006). Families in Iran: Changes, challenges and future. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 37(4), 589-608. https://doi.org/10.3138/jcfs.37.4.589

  • Azimi, N., & Dehghani Cham Piri, A. (2020). Effectiveness of acceptance and commitment treatment on marital satisfaction of married women with leukemia. Daneshvar Medicine: Basic and Clinical Research Journal, 28(1), 38-48. http://daneshvarmed.shahed.ac.ir/article_1899.html?lang=en

  • Baruch, D., Kanker, J., & Busch, A., & Juskiewicz, K. L. (2009). Enhancing the therapy relationship in acceptance and commitment therapy for psychotic symptoms. Journal of Clinical Case Studies, 8(3), 241-257. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534650109334818

  • Beck, U., & Beck-Gernsheim, E. (2004). Families in a runaway world. In J. Scott, J. Treas, & M. Richards (Eds.), Blackwell companions to sociology. The Blackwell companion to the sociology of families (pp. 499-514). Blackwell Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470999004.ch28

  • Boyle, P. J., Kulu, H., Cooke, T., Gayle, V., & Mulder, C. H. (2008). Moving and union dissolution. Demography, 45(1), 209-222. https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.2008.0000

  • Brown, F. L., Whittingham, K., Boyd, R. N., McKinlay, L., & Sofronoff, K. (2015). Does stepping stones triple p plus acceptance and commitment therapy improve parent, couple, and family adjustment following paediatric acquired brain injury? A randomised controlled trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 73, 58-66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2015.07.001

  • Capuzzi, D., & Stauffer, M. D. (2015). Foundations of couples, marriage, and family counseling. John Wiley & Sons.

  • Coché, J. (2011). Couples group psychotherapy: A clinical treatment model. Routledge.

  • Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112(1), 155-159. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.112.1.155

  • Dewane, C. (2008). The ABCs of ACT: Acceptance and commitment therapy. Social Work Today, 8(5), 34. https://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/090208p36.shtml

  • Dousti, P., Ghodrati, G., & Ebrahimi, M. (2019). Guide of group psychotherapy: Based on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Faragir Hegmataneh. http://dousti.net/Persian/book/Guide%20of%20group%20psychotherapy.pdf

  • Eddins, R. (2014). Acceptance and commitment therapy in group practice. The Houston Group Psychotherapy Society. https://hgps.org/newsletter/acceptance-commitment-therapy-in-group-practice/

  • Farahanifar, M., Heidari, H., Davodi, H., & Aleyasin, S. A. (2019). Comparison of effectiveness of systematic motivational counseling and acceptance and commitment therapy on conflict resolution styles of incompatible marital woman. Journal of Research in Behavioural Sciences, 17(1), 44-55. https://rbs.mui.ac.ir/article-1-643-en.html

  • Forman, E. M., & Herbert, J. D. (2009). New directions in cognitive behavior therapy: Acceptance-based therapies. General principles and empirically supported techniques of cognitive behavior therapy (pp. 77-101). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

  • Ghoroghi, S., Hassan, S. A., & Baba, M. (2012). Function of family-of-origin experiences and marital adjustment among married Iranian students of Universiti Putra Malaysia. International Journal of Psychological Studies, 4(3), 94. https://doi.org/10.5539/ijps.v4n3p94

  • Gladding, S. T. (2014). Family therapy: History, theory, and practice: Pearson Higher Ed.

  • Goff, J. D. (2004). Ecological factors influencing the marital relationships of Chinese international graduate students. Michigan State University.

  • Gold, J. M. (2006). Profiling marital satisfaction among graduate students: An analysis of the perceptions of masters and doctoral-students. Contemporary Family Therapy, 28(4), 485-495. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10591-006-9019-6

  • Gottman, J. M. (2014). What predicts divorce?: The relationship between marital processes and marital outcomes. Psychology Press.

  • Greeff, P. A., & De Bruyne, T. (2000). Conflict management style and marital satisfaction. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 26(4), 321-334. https://doi.org/10.1080/009262300438724

  • Haris, F., & Kumar, A. (2018). Marital satisfaction and communication skills among married couples. Indian Journal of Social Research, 59(1), 35-44. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324680369_Marital_Satisfaction_and_Communication_Skills_among_Married_Couples

  • Harris, R. (2009). ACT with love: Stop struggling, reconcile differences, and strengthen your relationship with acceptance and commitment therapy. New Harbinger Publications.

  • Hayes, S. C. (2004). Acceptance and commitment therapy, relational frame theory, and the third wave of behavioral and cognitive therapies. Behavior Therapy, 35(4), 639-665. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0005-7894(04)80013-3

  • Hayes, S. C., Luoma, J. B., Bond, F. W., Masuda, A., & Lillis, J. (2006). Acceptance and commitment therapy: Model, processes and outcomes. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(1), 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2005.06.006

  • Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (2011). Acceptance and commitment therapy: The process and practice of mindful change. Guilford Press.

  • Iranian Students Association Malaysia. (2015). Iranian Students’ Association in public universities [Unpublished raw data].

  • Karimzadeh, K., & Salimi, M. (2018). The effectiveness of couple therapy (based on acceptance and commitment) on intimacy, forgivness, and psychological well-being between couples, case study: Personnel of Omidieh Education Department, Iran. European Journal of Education Studies, 4(9). https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1296969

  • Kasapoğlu, F., & Yabanigül, A. (2018). Marital satisfaction and life satisfaction: The mediating effect of spirituality. Spiritual Psychology and Counseling, 3(2), 177-195. https://doi.org/10.37898/spc.2018.3.2.0048

  • Kavousian, J., Haniffi, H., & Karimi, K. (2017). The efficacy of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) on marital satisfaction in couples. Journal of Health and Care, 19(1), 75-87. http://hcjournal.arums.ac.ir/article-1-706-en.html

  • Keyvanpour, P., & Lotfi Kashani, K. (2014). The impact of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) in increasing rate of marital satisfaction in married women. Journal of Educational and Management Studies, 4(3), 614-616. http://jems.science-line.com/attachments/article/26/J.%20Educ.%20Manage.%20Stud.,%204(3)%20614-616,%202014.pdf

  • Kline, S. L., & Liu, F. (2005). The influence of comparative media use on acculturation, acculturative stress, and family relationships of Chinese international students. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 29(4), 367-390. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2005.07.001

  • Madanian, L., Mansor, S. M. S. S., & Omar, A. H. (2013). Marital satisfaction of Iranian female students in Malaysia: A qualitative study. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 84, 987-993. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.686

  • Maxwell, S., & Delaney, H. D. (1990). Designing experiments and analysing data: A model comparison perspective. Wadsworth.

  • Mehrabadi, A. (2006). The effectivness of strategic of family therapy on marital satisfaction [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Allameh Tabataba’i University.

  • Moradzadeh, F., & Pirkhaefi, A. (2018). The effectiveness of acceptance and commitment therapy on marital satisfaction and cognitive flexibility among married employees of the welfare office. Iranian Journal of Psychiatric Nursing, 5(6), 1-7. http://doi.org/10.21859/ijpn-05061

  • Nourollahi, H. (2007). The role of expression of couples’ emotions and level of marital satisfaction [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Islamic Azad University.

  • Olson, D., DeFrain, J., & Skogrand, L. (2010). Marriages and families: Intimacy, diversity, and strengths. McGraw Hill.

  • Olson, D., Olson-Sigg, A., & Larson, P. J. (2008). The couple checkup: Find your relationship strengths. Thomas Nelson.

  • Omidi, A., & Talighi, E. (2017). The effectiveness of marital therapy based on acceptance and commitment on couples’ marital satisfaction and quality of life. International Journal of Body, Mind and Culture, 4(1), 46-51. https://doi.org/10.22122/ijbmc.v4i1.80

  • Peterson, B. D., Eifert, G. H., Feingold, T., & Davidson, S. (2009). Using acceptance and commitment therapy to treat distressed couples: A case study with two couples. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 16(4), 430-442. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpra.2008.12.009

  • Previti, D., & Amato, P. R. (2003). Why stay married? rewards, barriers, and marital stability. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65(3), 561-573. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2003.00561.x

  • Rosen-Grandon, J. R., Myers, J. E., & Hattie, J. A. (2004). The relationship between marital characteristics, marital interaction processes, and marital satisfaction. Journal of Counseling & Development, 82(1), 58-68. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1556-6678.2004.tb00286.x

  • Salehy, Z., Mahmud, Z., & Amat, S. (2013). Immigration and Iranian couples in Malaysia. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 84, 850-854. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.660

  • Sawilowsky, S. S. (2004). Teaching random assignment: Do you believe it works? Journal of Modern Applied Statistical Methods, 3(1), 23. https://doi.org/10.22237/jmasm/1083370980

  • Schloss, P. J., & Smith, M. A. (1999). Conducting research. Englewood Cliffs. Prentice Hall.

  • Sekaran, U., & Bougie, R. (2016). Research methods for business: A skill building approach. John Wiley & Sons.

  • Slavinskienė, J., & Žardeckaitė-Matulaitienė, K. (2012). The relations between socio-demographical factors, irrational beliefs, adult insecure attachment style and marital satisfaction of Lithuanian married couples. Proceedings in ARSA-Advanced Research in Scientific Areas. https://www.academia.edu/4626257/The_relations_between_socio-demographical_factors_irrational_beliefs_adult_insecure_attachment_style_and_marital_satisfaction_of_Lithuanian_married_couples

  • Soltaninejad, K., Khosropour, F., & Mohammadtehrani, H. (2020). Effect of acceptance and commitment therapy on marital adjustment and dysfunctional attitudes among married students. Journal of Nursing Education (JNE), 9(4). http://jne.ir/article-1-1163-fa.pdf

  • Stutzer, A., & Frey, B. S. (2006). Does marriage make people happy, or do happy people get married? The Journal of Socio-Economics, 35(2), 326-347. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socec.2005.11.043

  • Trent, K., & South, S. J. (2003). Spousal alternatives and marital relations. Journal of Family Issues, 24(6), 787-810. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X03252779

  • Westrup, D., & Wright, M. J. (2017). Learning ACT for group treatment: An acceptance and commitment therapy skills training manual for therapists. New Harbinger Publications.

  • Zakhirehdari, N., Navabinejad, S., & Koraei, A. (2019). The effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral couple therapy on improving marriage performance and marital intimacy of couples. Medical Science, 23(97), 290-293. http://www.discoveryjournals.org/medicalscience/current_issue/v23/n97/A5.pdf

ISSN 0128-7702

e-ISSN 2231-8534

Article ID


Download Full Article PDF

Share this article

Related Articles