University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456,

January 27, 2000 Contact: Jody Oesterreicher (312) 996-8277,


Roses? Chocolates? Candlelit dinner for two? They all are important romantic touches, but this year couples in metropolitan Chicago may want to take a more practical and long-lasting approach to enhancing their relationships.

The University of Illinois at Chicago's Office of Applied Psychological Services recently introduced the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program, a unique approach to building and maintaining happy and healthy relationships based on 20 years of research.

Couples who have learned the skills taught in this preventive program have a 50 percent higher success rate not only in staying together, but also in being happy in their relationships than couples without this training, according to the research.

"The second half of that equation is very important because many people in stable marriages are unhappy," says Kathryn Engel, associate director of the UIC psychological services office.

A recent study in Germany found that only 4 percent of couples who took this relationship enhancement workshop had divorced within five years of completing the program. Couples who received traditional or no premarital counseling had a divorce rate of 24 percent after five years.

Engel is an expert on intimate relationships and has been teaching couples for more than 15 years. Though marital therapy can be effective, she says, research shows that many couples get into therapy too late to save their relationships. Engel recommends the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program for all couples, but says that happy couples and couples in the early stages of relationship stress may benefit most from the program.

She emphasizes that the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program is not therapy or an encounter group, but a workshop. Topics covered include communicating and listening; destructive patterns and constructive griping; keeping fun and friendship alive; expectations; problem solving; and commitment.

Engel trained at the University of Denver, where this relationship-enhancement research began with funding from the National Institute of Mental Health.

UIC offers the program in a condensed single-day format and in an expanded two-day weekend getaway format. The former takes place at UIC, the latter at the Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center.

The one-day workshop costs $79 per individual and $139 per couple and will take place April 8. The two-day workshop costs $359 per couple, including room and continental breakfast, and takes place Feb. 19-20. For more information or to register, call (312) 996-2540.

With 25,000 students, the University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest and most diverse university in the Chicago area. UIC is home to the largest medical school in the United States and is one of only 88 national Research I universities. Located just west of Chicago's Loop, UIC is a vital part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of the area.


Copyright © 1999 by B&P Consulting, Inc. and University of Illinois at Chicago. All rights reserved.
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