Steffany J. Fredman
Karl R. and Diane Wendle Fink Early Career Professor for the Study of Families
Pennsylvania State University
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
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and romantic relationships; couple-based interventions for PTSD; couples’ adaptation to stress across the lifespan; emotion regulation in couples
- 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
Honors and Awards
- 2018-present KL2 Scholar, Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, The Pennsylvania State University
- 2017-present Karl R. Fink and Diane Wendle Fink Early Career Professorship, College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University
- 2016 Teaching Excellence Award, College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University
- 2015-2017 Clinical Research Loan Repayment Award Renewal, National Institutes of Health
- 2014-2015 Fran and Holly Soistman Faculty Endowment, College of Health and Human Development, Pennsylvania State University
- 2012 Texas A&M NSF ADVANCE Center for Women Faculty Workshop Scholar
- 2011-2012 Clinical Research Loan Repayment Award Renewal, National Institutes of Health
- 2008-2010 Clinical Research Loan Repayment Award, National Institutes of Health
- 2007 Participant, Klaus-Grawe Think Tank Meeting, Zurich and Zuoz, Switzerland
- 2006 American Psychological Foundation Todd E. Husted Memorial Award
- 2005 Martin S. Wallach Award, Outstanding Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- 2004-2006 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, National Institute of Mental Health
My research focuses on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within a couple context and sits at the junction of (1) human development and family studies, (2) clinical psychology and (3) quantitative methods that link individual and couple functioning across multiple time scales. Broadly speaking, my work seeks to enhance understanding of ways that PTSD affects intimate relationships, how aspects of the trauma survivor’s close relationships can impede or facilitate recovery from PTSD, and how involving intimate others can improve individual and relationship outcomes for those with PTSD and their loved ones.
In my lab, we’re studying ways that PTSD affects couples’ relationship quality, communication, parenting, and emotion regulation, including how emotion transmitted through the voice from one partner to the other can contribute to the maintenance of PTSD and relationship problems. We’re also studying well-intended but potentially unhelpful behaviors that partners and other family members sometimes engage in as a response to living with a loved one with mental health difficulties but that can inadvertently impede recovery from PTSD and associated relationship problems. For example, our work demonstrates that partners’ altering their own behaviors to decrease patients’ PTSD-related distress and/or to minimize PTSD-related relationship conflict (i.e., partner accommodation of PTSD symptoms) predicts greater patient and partner psychological and relationship distress but is mitigated by couple therapy for PTSD (Fredman, Vorstenbosch, Wagner, Macdonald, & Monson, 2014; Fredman et al., 2016).
On the translational front, I am actively involved in efforts to develop and validate couple-based interventions for PTSD. I am the co-developer of Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy for PTSD (CBCT for PTSD; Monson & Fredman, 2012), a couple-based therapy for PTSD that simultaneously treats PTSD symptoms and enhances intimate relationship functioning and is currently being disseminated nationally within the Department of Veterans Affairs. I am the Principal Investigator of a recently completed grant funded by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs under the auspices of the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD (www.consortiumtoalleviateptsd.org) to test an intensive multi-couple group version of CBCT for PTSD that can be delivered during a single weekend retreat for service members and veterans with PTSD to enhance treatment retention and efficiency. We’re also eager to capitalize on the couple relationship as a conduit for preventing PTSD-related parenting impairments by engaging couples in which one or both partners are experiencing clinically significant PTSD symptoms during the transition to parenthood. To this end, we’re working with Dr. Mark Feinberg of the PSU Prevention Research Center to create a PTSD-informed version of Family Foundations (Feinberg et al., 2016), an empirically supported universal couple-based transition to parenthood program that focuses on the development of a strong and healthy co-parenting relationship.
In addition to these PTSD-specific projects, my students and I are collaborating with colleagues from Penn State, the University of Heidelberg, UNC-Chapel Hill, and NYU on a variety of projects investigating how couples and families adapt during high stress contexts across the lifespan. For example, we’re studying the daily and longitudinal associations between couple relationship quality and co-parenting, the impact of parental mental health difficulties on couple/family adjustment during the transition to parenthood and early parenting years, the regulation and co-regulation of anger in community couples, and the intersection of individual mental health and couple functioning in racial minority couples at mid-life. We’re also exploring the regulation of emotion within and between partners in a dyad across a range of short time scales (second-by-second, within a day, across days) using a variety of research methods (e.g., extraction of voice stress expressed during couples’ conversations, dyadic ecological momentary assessment and daily diary designs) and statistical techniques that capitalize on dyadic time series data (e.g., dynamical systems modeling). It’s our hope that better understanding of the ways that intimate dyads adapt individually and as a couple in high stress contexts will lead to more targeted interventions that help couples and families thrive across the lifespan.
- Fredman, S. J., Marshall, A. D., *Le, Y., Aronson, K. R., Perkins, D. F., & Hayes, J. A. (2018, May 3). Interpersonal relationship quality mediates the association between military-related posttraumatic stress and academic dysfunction among student veterans. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/tra0000363
- *Polenick, C. A., Fredman, S. J., Birditt, K. S., & Zarit, S. H. (2018). Relationship quality with parents: Implications for own and partner well-being in middle-aged couples. Family Process, 57, 253-268. doi:10.1111/famp.12275
- Fredman, S. J., Beck, J. G., Shnaider, P., *Le, Y., Pukay-Martin, N. D., *Pentel, K. Z., … & Marques, L. (2017). Longitudinal associations between PTSD symptoms and dyadic conflict communication following a severe motor vehicle accident. Behavior Therapy, 48, 235-246. doi:10.1016/j.beth.2016.05.001
- Fredman, S. J., *Le, Y., Marshall, A. D., Brick, T. R., & Feinberg, M. E. (2017). A dyadic perspective on PTSD symptoms’ associations with couple functioning and parenting stress in first-time parents. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 6, 117-132. doi:10.1037/cfp0000079
- *Le, Y., Fredman, S. J., & Feinberg, M. E. (2017). Parenting stress mediates the association between negative affectivity and harsh parenting: A longitudinal dyadic analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 31, 679-688. doi:10.1037/fam0000315
- Fredman, S. J., Pukay-Martin, N. D., Macdonald, A., Wagner, A. C., Vorstenbosch, V., & Monson, C. M. (2016). Partner accommodation moderates treatment outcomes for couple therapy for PTSD. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84, 79-87. doi:10.1037/ccp0000061
- Fredman, S. J., Baucom, D. H., Boeding, S., & Miklowitz, D. J. (2015). Relatives’ emotional involvement moderates the effects of family therapy for bipolar disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 83, 81-91. doi:10.1037/a0037713
- 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.
Prevention Research Center
PTSD and other mental health conditions within a couple/family context; military couples and families; couple-based interventions for PTSD