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Steffany J. Fredman
Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Associate Professor of Psychology
Edna P. Bennett Faculty Fellow in Prevention Research
Summary Statement

Steffany Fredman studies the interpersonal context of mental health (PTSD and related conditions), couple-/family- based interventions designed to simultaneously enhance individual mental health and relational wellbeing, and couple and family adaptation to stress across the li

  • Human Development and Family Studies - HDFS
  • Research
  • Family Development
  • Intervention and Prevention
  • Graduate Program
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  • 2010 - Postdoc, Women’s Health Sciences Division, VA National Center for PTSD
  • 2007 - Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 2007 - Pre-Doctoral Clinical Internship, Boston Consortium in Clinical Psychology
  • 1996 - B.A., Psychology, Amherst College
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Currently Accepting Graduate Students
Office Address
202 Health and Human Development Building
Professional Credentials


Professional Experience
  • 2021-present, Associate Professor (courtesy appointment), Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 2020-present, Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 2014-2020, 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


  • 2023-2026, Edna P. Bennett Faculty Fellowship in Prevention Science, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 2022, Changing the Future Leadership Development Program Participant, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 2018-2020 KL2 NIH Scholar, Clinical and Translational Science Institute, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 2017-2020 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
Grants and Research Projects

My research focuses on individual psychological well-being within a couple context and sits at the junction of (1) clinical psychological science (2) family science 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 individual psychological distress affects intimate relationships, how romantic relationships can impact individual mental health, and how involving intimate others can improve individual and relationship outcomes for those with mental health difficulties and their loved ones. For more information about work that my students and I are doing in the Couple and Family Adaptation to Stress (CFAS) lab, please visit our lab website:

Specific Projects

In my lab, we’re studying ways that PTSD symptoms affect couples’ relationship quality, communication, parenting, and emotion regulation, including how emotional arousal transmitted through the voice from one partner to the other can contribute to the maintenance of PTSD and relationship difficulties. We’re also studying behaviors that partners and other family members sometimes engage in as a response to living with a loved one with mental health difficulties 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 disorder-specific couple therapy for PTSD (Fredman et al., 2014; 2016; 2021; 2022).

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 disorder-specific couple therapy for PTSD that simultaneously treats PTSD symptoms and enhances intimate relationship functioning. CBCT for PTSD has been tested with community, veteran, and active duty military couples and is currently being disseminated nationally within the Department of Veterans Affairs. I am the Principal Investigator of a recently funded $3,000,000 grant by the Department of Defense to test the efficacy of an abbreviated, intensive, multi-couple group version of CBCT for PTSD (AIM-CBCT for PTSD) that can be delivered during a single weekend for service members and veterans with PTSD to enhance treatment efficiency and retention. This work is being conducted with collaborators at UT Health San Antonio’s STRONG STAR Consortium (, the University of Denver, and Toronto Metropolitan University. Prior work based on a DoD- and VA-funded pilot study of AIM-CBCT for PTSD (Fredman et al., 2020; 2021; Macdonald et al., 2022) demonstrated that this very brief and potentially highly scalable version of CBCT for PTSD was associated with significant improvements in patients’ PTSD and comorbid symptoms, partners’ psychological distress, and couples’ relationship functioning.

My students and I are also collaborating with colleagues within and outside of Penn State on a variety of projects investigating how couples and families adapt during high stress contexts across the lifespan. These include the role of parental depressive symptoms in the spillover from interparental conflict to parent-adolescent relationship quality on a daily basis, the impact of parental psychological distress on couple/family adjustment during the early parenting years, and the effects of AIM-CBCT for PTSD in minoritized couples. To advance health equity, we are currently working on a proposal to investigate whether treating PTSD with AIM-CBCT for PTSD among Black adults at mid-life has protective effects on cognition by targeting mechanisms shown to accelerate cognitive aging in this population (sleep, inflammation). 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 individuals, couples, and families thrive across the lifespan.


*student/mentee co-author

  • Fredman, S. J., Fischer, M. S., Baucom, D. H., *Le, Y., *Taverna, E. C., Chow, S.-M., Ram, N., & Marshall, A. D. (2023). PTSD symptom cluster severity predicts momentary emotion dynamics during couple conversations. Behavior Therapy, 54(2), 330-345.
  • *Jenkins, A. I. C., Fredman, S. J., Gamaldo, A. A., King, V. E., & Almeida, D. M. (2023). Love, health, and the ‘hood: An examination of romantic relationship adjustment and perceived neighborhood quality as predictors of partnered Black Americans’ long-term psychological health. Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science, 132(5), 531-541.
  • Fredman, S. J., *Le, Y., Macdonald, A., Monson, C. M., Rhoades, G. K., Dondanville, K. A., Blount, T. H., Hall-Clark, B. N., Fina, B. A., Mintz, J., Litz, B. T., Young-McCaughan, S., *Jenkins, A. I. C., Yarvis, J. S., Keane, T. M., & Peterson, A. L. for the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD (2021). A closer look at relational outcomes from a pilot study of abbreviated, intensive, multi-couple group cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for PTSD with military dyads. Family Process, 60(3), 712-726.
  • Fredman, S. J., Macdonald, A., Monson, C. M., Dondanville, K. A., Blount, T. H., Hall-Clark, B. N., Fina, B. A., Mintz, J., Litz, B. T., Young-McCaughan, S., Hancock, A. K., Rhoades, G. K., Yarvis, J. S., Resick, P. A., Roache, J. D., *Le, Y., Wachen, J. S., Niles, B. L., McGeary, C. A., Keane, T. M., & Peterson, A. L., for the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD (2020). Intensive multi-couple group therapy for PTSD: A non-randomized pilot study with military and veteran dyads. Behavior Therapy, 51(5), 700-714.
  • *Jenkins, A. I. C., Fredman, S. J., *Le, Y., Sun, X., Brick, T. R., Skinner, O. D., & McHale, S. M. (2020). Prospective associations between depressive symptoms and marital satisfaction in Black couples. Journal of Family Psychology, 34(1), 12-23.
  • Fredman, S. J., *Le, Y., Marshall, A. D., Garcia Hernandez, W., Feinberg, M. E., & Ammerman, R. T. (2019). Parents’ PTSD symptoms and child abuse potential during the perinatal period:  Direct associations and mediation via relationship conflict. Child Abuse & Neglect, 90(4), 66-75.
  • *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(6), 679-688.
  • 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(1), 79-87.
  • 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(4), 372-381.
  • Monson, C. M., & Fredman, S. J. (2012). Cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder: Harnessing the healing power of relationships. Guilford.