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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Valentine’s Day relationship tune-ups offered by Couple & Family Therapy Clinic

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to give your relationship a tune-up, and the Couple & Family Therapy Clinic, affiliated with the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, is just the place to do it. They’re making it even easier this Valentine’s Day by setting up a booth in the Memorial Union and handing out tips for improving relationships.

For instance, tip #1 reminds us that “relationships are an investment, so make sure you are making deposits and not just withdrawals. The more you put in, the more you receive. However, what, how and when you invest also matter on your rate of return.”

According to Gina MacLure, coordinator of the clinic, couples counseling and relationship enhancement education are available all year long. About 20 percent of clients are students, who pay a reduced rate of $5 per session. The clinic offers two forms of relationship tune-up: One is more of an official assessment where couples take a survey about their relationship and then get results about strengths and areas of growth, while the other is tailored to specific problems such as learning how to communicate during a disagreement.

“Relationship tune-ups used as preventative strategies can be even more effective than reparative strategies designed to fix a problem, so don’t wait,” she said.

Clients are taught basic skills like validating one another, listening, how to de-escalate a situation, fair ways to fight, and what to do when someone storms out of the room.

“No matter how distressed or intact a relationship may be, there is something to learn,” said MacLure. “A lot of people come in when they are not dissatisfied with the relationship but just want to learn better communication skills or learn better ways to fight before it becomes a problem.”

Therapists at the clinic are second year graduate interns in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program who have been trained in couples issues, ranging from communication skills to sexual dysfunction. The primary therapist is supervised by one of three professors in the program, Jerome Adams, Tiffani Kisler and Jacqueline Sparks, each of whom have different areas of interest and expertise.

“We also have an option where client sessions can be supervised through a two-way mirror, and at the end of the session the faculty member will provide feedback,” said MacLure. “That option is especially helpful with issues that are more complex where people might benefit from multiple perspectives.”

For more information about the Couple & Family Therapy Clinic, contact MacLure at 874-5956 or visit www.uri.edu/hss/mft/clinic.