Friday, June 03, 2005

Abstract - Premarital Counseling Article

Author: Groom, J. (2001). What works in premarital counseling? Journal of Pastoral Counseling; Vol. 36, p46, 18p,

Purpose: To summarize several research studies done to determine what predicts marital stability and happiness.

Subjects: Couples who seek counseling before getting married; distressed and non-distressed married couples.

Procedure: Compared several articles on premarital programs and studies.

Results: Documentation for efficacy of pre-Cana is complicated by the absence of a standardized format. PREP is designed to improve communication and decrease marital conflict. PREP is educational; it is not presented as therapy or counseling. Leaders present core themes in brief lectures. The couple's interactional processes had the greatest predictive value. One technique taught is the “Speaker-Listerner technique.“ Studies have generally shown improvement in couples communication in the short term, with efficacy of the training diminishing over time. Sullivan et al. focus on the importance of evaluating and teaching social support responses. The study found negative communication differentiated distressed couples from satisfied ones. Johnson and O'Leary used self-report to examine the effect of daily pleasing and displeasing behaviors. Supported the view that daily marital behaviors are significantly correlated with marital satisfaction. Gottman et al. challenges two aspects of the PREP program. Active listening is not part of what non-distressed couples do. Anger in marital interaction did not predict divorce. Criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and listener withdrawal reliably did predict divorce. They are often activated by high intensity startup of discussions by the wife and the husband's rejection of his wife's influence. Gottman and Markham et al. agree negative escalation of conflict is most predictive of divorce. Both acknowledge the importance of building friendship and positive interactions into the relationship. Gottman refines conflict to the husband's refusal to accept his wife's influence. Fowers argues the other techniques overlook the fundamental need to recognize values such as courage, honesty, generosity, and self-restraint.

Conclusions: We can support marriages in a number of ways. We can become more informed on the resources available to couples. We can encourage those in our circle of influence to seek help for a troubled marriage. Marriages can be saved.

Remarks: While the comparison was enlightening, the author appeared to have been fishing for a particular outcome and was dissatisfied when the information did not bring to light her beliefs. Instead of seeing the great value in the research presented, she expressed disappointment and the need for more studies. After she gave her conclusion and bibliography, there is attached a summary for the PREPARE method by two other authors, which she does not cover in her article. I don't know if this was an oversight in the database, but it struck me as dishonest.

No comments: