Term Paper: Rising Divorce Rates

Pages: 20 (5699 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] They are also more likely to be fair or poor health and more likely to have been hospitalized (NCHS, 1997). During the 1990's, almost 15 million children, most of them younger than 8 years of age, faced a life-altering crisis: divorce (Sammons). When parents divorce, children suffer injuries that can last a lifetime (Sammons).

Reducing divorce and unwed child-bearing "would not only be good for children and society but, in the long run, will save money." With that said, the effects of divorce "spill over into every aspect of life" note Rector and Fagan. According to studies, children whose parents divorce:

Are increasing the victims of abuse and neglect;

Exhibit more health problems mental, emotional and physical;

Are more frequently involved in crime and drug abuse;

Have higher rates of suicide;

More frequently demonstrate a diminished learning capacity;

Perform less well in reading, spelling and math peers from intact two-parent homes;

Are more likely to repeat a grade, have higher dropout rates and lower rates of college graduation; and Are more likely in homes with reduced incomes.

Chapter 3 Research Methodology

The research methods used to complete this project included the careful analysis of professional articles and reports. All of the information presented in the 4th chapter was derived from professional journals and an encyclopedia of medicine. The professional sources that were used include Annual Review of Psychology, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology and Contemporary Pediatrics.

Chapter 4 Presentation and Analysis of the Data

The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine defines marriage counseling as, "a type of psychotherapy for a married couple or established partners that tries to resolve problems in the relationship. Typically, two people attend counseling sessions together to discuss specific issues." (Turkington) The encyclopedia article goes on to explain the purpose of the counseling is to discover ways that the couple can better communicate. (Turkington)

Marriage counseling is described as a short-term therapy that can take place before a couple actually marries, during a marriage or after a couple is divorced. (Turkington)

In the case of the latter the counseling is used to mend broken fences for the sake of any children that might be involved. (Turkington)

Couples Therapy

Annual Review of Psychology reports that "Couple therapy reduces relationship distress and may affect individual psychopathology, such as depression."(Christensen) The focus of the study in this article focuses on couple therapy and prevention programs for couples. (Christensen) The article explains that there are a several different interventions that couples can try. The most popular of these interventions include; behavioral couple therapy, cognitive behavioral couple therapy, and emotion-focused couple therapy. (Christensen) Now let us discuss each of these in depth.

The intervention referred to as Behavioral Couple Therapy describes social learning theory of human behavior, behavioral couple therapy (BCT) views marital satisfaction and distress in reinforcement terms. Couples are satisfied to the extent that their ratio of reinforcement to punishment in the relationship is positive; they are dissatisfied to the extent that this ratio is negative." (Christensen)

Christensen goes on to explain that this type of therapy is based on the assumption that the couple is together because they share some type of "mutual reinforcement." (Christensen) After a certain length of time the affection that the couple once felt for one another gives way to a mutual irritation with one another. The irritation that the couple feels for one another may result in verbal bickering and a breakdown in communication in the relationship. (Christensen) The purpose of this type of intervention is to demonstrate to couples how they can form better communications skills. (Christensen) In addition the intervention seeks to motivate couples to solve their problems calmly and without hostility. (Christensen)

There are three types of interventions within Behavioral Couple Therapy which include; communication training, behavior exchange, and problem solving training. (Christensen) Behavior exchange describes the process by which the marriage counselor demonstrates to the couple the positive aspects of the relationship and persuades the couple to perform those acts on a frequent basis. (Christensen)

The counselor also directs the couple to appreciate the positive actions of the partner.

Christensen) In the intervention described as communication training counselors show couples how to maneuver through problems without placing blame and they teach couples to affirm each others feelings.

Christensen) In problem solving training couples learn "how to define problems explicitly, how to generate potential solutions to those problems, how to negotiate and compromise on possible solutions, and how to implement and evaluate solutions." (Christensen)

It is believed that Behavioral Couple therapy is one of the most effective ways to counsel couples. There have been several studies that have confirmed this belief including one performed by Hahlweg and Markmen in 1988 which found that the treatment had a 95% success rate over a time period of one year. (Christensen) Dunn & Schwebel also conducted a study of the intervention in 1995 they examined 11 studies published between 1980 and 1993 that contained 13 BCT treatment groups. On measures of marital behavior, they found a weighted mean effect size of 0.79 at posttreatment and 0.52 at follow-up. On measures of relationship quality, they found a weighted mean effect size of 0.78 at posttreatment and 0.54 at follow-up. The average follow-up time in their study was 8.75 months." (Christensen)

The next intervention that Christensen discusses is Cognitive behavioral couple therapy.

This type of therapy involves mates correctly interpreting each others behaviors. It is believed that the same cognitive behavior therapy that is successful with individuals can also be used to successfully treat couples. (Christensen) The purpose of this type of therapy is to "facilitate partners' ability "to identify their cognitions that are associated with marital discord, to test the validity or appropriateness of those cognitions, and to modify dysfunctional cognitions" (Christensen)

When this type of therapy is used counselors attempt to reform certain dysfunctional behaviors within the relationship. (Christensen)

This is achieved through the careful observation of the couple's attitudes towards one another; this allows the therapist to see certain negative words that the couple might use. The therapist can then provide the couple with alternative means of expression. (Christensen)

In addition the counselor will attempt to change the couples perceptions of one another.

In studies conducted using this methodology couple had a 54% success rate at improved marital behavior. (Christensen)

In addition the study found that the couples had a 71% improvement in their relationship quality when this method was used as a form of couple's therapy. (Christensen)

The results of these studies were taken over a time period of six months. (Christensen)

The final form of therapy that Christenson discusses is Emotionally Focused Therapy. Emotionally focused therapy examines "distress in close, romantic adult relationships in terms of attachment theory." (Christensen)

Relationship distress is defined as, the inability of a relationship to form a firm foundation for either person in the relationship. The theory behind the therapy asserts that, the disruption of attachment bonds that leads to relationship distress stimulates strong primary emotions within partners, such as a fear of abandonment by the other. In addition, there are secondary emotions and reactions, such as angry withdrawal in response to one's fear."


Emotionally focused therapy utilizes two principles the first of which is to find and remember the emotions that the couple once felt for one another. The second principle is to recreate the manner in which the couple interacts. (Christensen)

When this type of therapy is used counselors attempt "to expose and highlight the primary emotions that partners experience in their interaction with each other." (Christensen)

Christensen explains that the ability of couples to discuss their feelings sheds a new light on how they perceive the relationship and their role in the relationship. When couple are able to see themselves in this light they can create better interaction patterns that fulfill attachment needs. (Christensen)

For example, an EFCT therapist might help a pursuer, angry at the lack of contact with a withdrawn partner, to access his or her fear of abandonment and express this fear, rather than the secondary anger. The partner in term may respond to the expressed fear with support rather than withdrawal and the beginnings of a new, more functional interaction pattern is generated." (Christensen)

Studies that examined this therapy found that improvement in marital behavior was 87% and 69% in relationship quality. The results were derived from a time period of 12.4 months. (Christensen)

As you can see couple therapy can be crucial to the well being of a relationship. Ultimate a couple's decision to go to therapy may impact whether or not they get divorced. In any case this brief synopsis illustrates the importance of therapy and the ways in which it can aid couples in improving there communications skills. Christensen concluded that all three of these therapies can be beneficial to couples and that there are no major statistical differences… [END OF PREVIEW]

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