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Steffany J. Fredman
Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

  • Human Development and Family Studies - HDFS
  • Research
  • Family Development
  • Intervention and Prevention
  • Graduate Program
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  • 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
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Currently Accepting Graduate Students
Office Address
205 Health and Human Development Building
Professional Credentials



Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and romantic relationships; couple-based interventions for PTSD; couples’ adaptation to stress across the lifespan; emotion regulation in couples

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

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
Grants and Research Projects

My research focuses on individual psychological well-being 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 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, please visit the Couple and Family Adaptation to Stress (CFAS) lab website.

Couple Context of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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 to test an abbreviated, intensive, multi-couple group version of CBCT for PTSD (AIM-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.  

Couple and Family Adaptation to Stress across the Lifespan

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 during the transition to parenthood, the impact of parental psychological distress on couple/family adjustment during the 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.



  • *Jenkins, A. I. C., Fredman, S. J., *Le, Y., Sun, X., Brick, T. R., Skinner, O. D., & McHale, S. M. (in press). Prospective associations between depressive symptoms and marital satisfaction in Black couples. Journal of Family Psychology. doi:10.1037/fam0000573
  • 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, 66-75. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.01.024
  • *Le, Y., Fredman, S. J., McDaniel, B. T., Laurenceau, J.-P., & Feinberg, M. E. (2019). Cross-day influences between couple closeness and coparenting support among new parents. Journal of Family Psychology, 33, 360-369. doi:10.1037/fam0000489
  • 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
  • *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.


Additional Information

PTSD and other mental health conditions within a couple/family context; military couples and families; couple-based interventions for PTSD