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Does Marriage and Relationship Education Work? Essay

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Updated: Jun 23rd, 2020

Today, the duties and spheres of work of counselors are growing extremely wide. Counselor services are used to address personal problems such as destructive habits and behavioral patterns, professional and communal issues, and they also target romantic couples and their relationships (Calley, 2009). For the improvement of the result of counseling educational programs, a regular review and meta-analysis of the study results are conducted.

Article Summary

The article by Hawkins, Blanchard, Baldwin, and Fawcett (2008) called “Does Marriage and Relationship Education Work? A Meta-Analytic Study” is meta-analytic research designed to explore the efficacy of marriage and relationship education, also referred to as MRE along the lines of relationship quality and communication skills. The research showed that in terms of relationship quality, the effect sizes of modern-dosage programs were larger than those of quasi-experimental studies.

In relation to communication skills, published studies showed larger effect sizes than the unpublished ones. The main limitation of all the reviewed studies was the lack of ethical representation and an insufficient number of disadvantaged participants. As a result, it was impossible to draw reliable conclusions. Overall, MRE is composed of two main aspects that are the improvement of communication and mutual understanding in the couples and the management of more material aspects such as finances and role expectations (Hawkins et al., 2008).

Regular evaluation of MRE studies is important for further improvement and adjustments with the purpose of efficacy maximization. The main issue is that due to the limitation to conclusions of such analyses, some of the areas of MRE fail to be addressed properly. The meta-analytic study by Hawkins et al. (2008) showed that currently, the lack of a body for research limits the practitioners to address the problems of disadvantaged couples. Another area with insufficient data concerns ethnical minorities. These kinds of couples are more likely to face relationship issues due to the higher level of distress in their everyday life. Taking into consideration the high rates of divorce in the United States, the study concludes that the need for MRE programs for disadvantaged couples with high distress is growing.

In order to increase the participation of couples in MRE programs, specific policies targeting couples should be implemented. For example, such a policy could target the cost of the marriage license, which varies from one state to another. The cost of this license for the couples who had not participated in MRE could be increased, while the license could be provided for free to the couples with relationship education (Amato & Maynard, 2007).

Besides, MRE programs could be promoted via social advertisement campaigns using billboards and television. Moreover, marriage and relationship education providers could partner with such organizations as civic communities and churches in order to recruit disadvantaged couples and ethnical minorities for participation in MRE programs. Finally, the programs need to become parts of social help for the couples in need of assistance and work in collaboration with ACF (Administration for Children and Families) and the programs that target ethnically diverse communities.

To conduct a more detailed evaluation of MRE programs, I would employ the registration method to evaluate the couples based on their initial characteristics. Further, the requirements and needs of the couples could be grouped and coded in order to determine the statistics of the most common issues for each group of couples. Finally, I would assign a longer follow-up period to identify the efficiency of MRE in the long term.

Reference List

Amato, P. R. & Maynard, R. A. (2007). Decreasing non-marital births and strengthening marriage to reduce poverty. The Future of Children, 17(2), 117-141. Web.

Calley, N. G. (2009). Comprehensive program development in mental health counseling: Design, implementation, and evaluation. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 31(1), 9–21. Web.

Hawkins, A. J., Blanchard, V. L., Baldwin, S. A., & Fawcett, E. B. (2008). Does marriage and relationship education Work? A meta-analytic study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(5), 723–734. Web.

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