The Couple and Family Therapy Clinic is offering free relationship check-ups to couples at the University of Rhode Island.
The check-ups are made possible by the Heditsian Family Endowment for Life Partner Preparation, a fund created to support undergraduate students in making the right choice about the partner that they choose.
Gina MacLure, coordinator of the Family Therapy Clinic, had put in the proposal for the funds to be used in this way. And the response to the free check-ups has been great. MacLure says the program has already gotten 15 responses as of Tuesday, February 14. The only requirement is that at least one member of the couple be a student at URI.
“I think it’s great,” MacLure said. “The thing about it is if you take the precautionary preventative measures right in your relationship, it’s a lot easier than if your relationship is two inches away from breaking up or divorce. If you got help earlier, we may have had better success rate.”
She continued to say that getting help earlier is better and more successful than waiting for the last call. Couples may not have concerns, but preventative measures help couples to be on the same page and to gage how they are doing.
Couples taking advantage of this partake an hour-long survey through Prepare/Enrich, a relationship inventory and skill-building program. When the results come back, they show areas of strength between the couple and areas of growth.
“[The survey] gets them to think about the important things that people having a solid relationship and a stable relationship should think about,” said MacLure.
Joshua Bennett, a graduate student that helps with the program, said he enjoys using Prepare/Enrich because of how thorough the assessment is.
“The thorough nature of the assessment allows clients the opportunity to consider a lot of different areas of their relationship that they may have not considered previously,” Bennett said. “It has been my experience that these assessments provide the couple with a clearer picture of their own positions on a multitude of topics that are important for any romantic relationship.”
Bennett added that in his experience, the conversations that this assessment brings has fostered “growth and a deeper understanding” between the two. According to a video at prepare-enrich.com, the survey alone will allow couples to strengthen three or four different areas in their relationship.
During three one-hour sessions, graduate student counselors will go over the results with the couple, helping to couples to create a plan to help their relationship to continue growing. The counselors are able to give exercises for the couple to do in order to strengthen areas of growth. According to the same video, going through the counseling portion as well as taking the survey allows couple to strengthen and improve on 10 out of 13 categories.
“I think the relationship check-ups are reaching a population we may not normally reach because they are not at the point where they are necessarily saying I have a problem and need to come in,” she added.
Dr. Karen McCurdy, professor and chair of the Human Development and Family Studies department says they are excited to be able to offer this free program to students.
“It is a great opportunity for students to learn about healthy ways to communicate and to build stronger relationships with guidance from the skilled counselors at the URI Couple and Family Therapy Clinic,” said McCurdy.
It is no coincident that the check-ups fall during the week of Valentine’s Day. MacLure says this is because around this time of the year people are more apt to think about their relationship and where it is going.
The clinic is separate from the counseling center and focus more on the relationships themselves, whether romantic or familial. It is open all year for only a small fee, based on a sliding scale of $10 – $40. It’s not just for URI students either. The clinic is open to all community members around URI for whatever reason they may need.