A recent study on relationship support interventions has highlighted the benefits of couple counselling services with regard to reducing divorce rates and improving the quality of relationships. Over 800 couples and individuals attending counselling, relationship education sessions, and marriage preparation classes reported that these supportive services helped to improve their general well-being, communication as a couple, and the quality of their relationship. The evaluation, led by the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations and funded by the Department of Education, recorded a ‘marked improvement’ on all three measures after couples counselling. Furthermore, the positive outcome prompted many couples to consider using relationship support services in the future, despite initially having low expectations of their success.
The interviews showed that counselling is widely regarded to be a last ditch attempt at saving a relationship rather than a form of support or preventative technique that can be of benefit to couples and families in many different circumstances. After experiencing the services, however, the report demonstrated a high level of user satisfaction and showed a distinct change in attitude towards the processes from the couples involved.
Figures from the Relationship Foundation were used in the evaluation to calculate the costs of these services in comparison to the cost of relationship breakdown on society. For every £1 spent on couples counselling and marriage preparation workshops, these services could save public budgets up to £11.50 – not to mention the money individuals might save from avoiding court proceedings. Financial benefits aside, the positive effects of these support services are applicable not only to couples who are able to resolve their differences, but also to those whose relationship eventually results in separation. After receiving the support methods included in the study, couples are better prepared to resolve relationship disputes in a much less confrontational way, improving the outcome for both individuals and families.
The government has expressed an interest in seeing relationship interventions used more widely as a preventative measure for couples, and the Tavistock Institute provided a number of recommendations for how these plans might be implemented:
- A clear strategy and set of policies on relationship support from central and local government
- Widely-advertised support services to raise awareness, including information on marriage preparation classes in registry offices
- A quality assurance kitemark that can be applied to support services to provide reassurance for clients and professionals
- Greater awareness of relationship support services among professionals working with couples to increase referrals
You can read the full report here, and find out more about relationship support and couples counselling at Relate. There is also plenty of useful information on family law and working through a relationship breakdown at Resolution. And if you’re past the point of counselling and need a friendly and experienced family law solicitor to help you through relationship breakdown, please get in touch with us at Frances Lindsay & Co.
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