Symposium 1: Diverse Experiences in Individual and Relational Health Following Couple Relationship Education

  • 3:30 pm To 5:00 pm on July 18, 2019
  • Gallery Room 1 Bramber House

Diverse Experiences in Individual and Relational Health Following Couple Relationship Education

Couple relationship education (CRE) programs have been found to improve individual and couple functioning for the “average” participant. Emerging research has begun to explore the benefits of CRE across diverse populations, yet limited attention remains to the influence of specific CRE curricula and to variations in experiences in programs that likely exists among participants. This symposium will share research on two recently developed, empirically-informed CRE programs and help move the field of CRE evaluation away from a “one size fits all” assumption and towards models of best practices that acknowledge distinct program content/design and diverse populations.

Integrating Couple Functioning and Mindfulness in Couple Relationship Education

Despite the substantial number of Couple Relationship Education (CRE) curricula that exist, several are expensive and not easily accessible. More so, there are only a few CRE curricula that are considered evidence-based and most were developed for specific subpopulations rather than a general population. We will share two recently developed CRE curricula – ELEVATE and Couples Connecting Mindfully (CCM) – that are empirically-grounded, cost-effective, and evidence-based. Both curricula are also unique from other CRE curricula in that they help couples develop mindfulness-based stress reduction strategies to facilitate healthy individual and couple functioning. The background, development and piloting of these curricula will described.

Tests of Efficacy and Exploration of Differences Among Diverse Couple Relationship Education Participants

The current study advances CRE literature using a diverse sample of 921 couples in a randomized control study of two CRE programs on the first follow-up wave of data six months post-baseline. Results indicate treatment effects in nearly every intermediary outcome at immediate post-program, and sustained or enhanced treatment effects in several areas at 6 months, particularly in self-care, caring behaviors towards partner, and development of support systems. Several differences for subsamples’ experiences for each program are found related to the magnitude of change in couple functioning, mindfulness, and self-care. Implications for applied relationship science will be presented.

Change in Couple and Coparenting Functioning Following Relationship Education: A Comparison of Married and Unmarried Couples in the Child Welfare System

Couple relationship education (CRE) may improve overall couple and coparenting functioning, mindfulness, and specific aspects of relational health. However, examinations of CRE impacts on couples involved in the child welfare system are lacking. Similarly, understanding of how the magnitude of changes vary depending on marital status, participant characteristics (e.g., length of time parenting, employment status, and level of risk), and program characteristics (e.g., program dosage and format) is less clear. The current study examines the association between these potential moderators of change and core healthy relationship functioning following participation in ELEVATE. Implications for moving applied relationship science will be presented.

Variations in the Benefits of Couple Relationship Education for Foster Caregivers

Due to the many challenges related to fostering, almost half of foster caregivers discontinue fostering within the first year, citing issues such as strain on their biological family. Couple relationship education (CRE) may provide foster caregivers with the support needed to maintain a healthy relationship and manage these challenges. Using a sample of diverse foster caregiver couples, this study examined changes in mindfulness, couple functioning, and stress following participation in CRE. Variations in change were detected based on specific individual and family characteristics. Implications for professionals, families, and applied relationship science will be presented.