An Ecological Perspective on Health Promotion Systems, Settings and Social Processes

Relationship Education to Promote Family Health

Author(s): Frode Thuen and Oystein Mortensen

Pp: 40-47 (8)

DOI: 10.2174/978160805341411201010040


This chapter describes how family welfare is considered a public responsibility in the Scandinavian countries, in contrast to the USA and UK where emphasis is placed upon private provision. The role of the national authorities encompasses two main processes: placing relationships on the political agenda, and funding the development and implementation of various measures. Two main approaches to relationship education are addressed: 1) a more direct approach of identifying risk factors for developing relation problems and conflicts, as well as protective factors strengthening relationship bonds and enhancing the quality of the couple relationship, and 2) a less direct approach of evaluating specific programmes through participant evaluations and various types of experimental designs. The latter is exemplified by the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) considered the most scientifically rigorous relationship education programme. PREP is based on a cognitive–behavioural theoretical framework and is designed to provide couples with knowledge, communication, and problem-solving skills associated with effective relationship management. The chapter includes a discussion of the theoretical and empirical demarcation between relationship education and couples therapy. It emphasizes that couples seeking help for their relationship difficulties may not benefit from relationship education.

Keywords: Family welfare, political agenda, intervention programs, relationship education, couples therapy, risk factors, protective factors, effectiveness, Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP), cognitive-behavioural theory, relational functioning.

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