Relationship Education to Promote Family Health
Pp. 40-47 (8)
Frode Thuen and Oystein Mortensen
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.
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.
Bergen University College, Norway.