• I hear what you're saying: evaluating the couple validation training (CVT), a brief behavioral intervention

      McKay, Jessica; Worrall, Michael J.; Gifford, Valerie; Lopez, Ellen; Eldridge, Gloria; Fitterling, James (2020-12)
      Couple distress has strong implications for individual, couple, and family functioning. Research has found couple relationship education to be an effective tool in alleviating couple distress, thus improving the quality of couple communication and problem-solving skills. Couple relationship education has been shown to be more cost-effective and less likely to provoke the typical fears couples face when considering couple therapy, increasing the likelihood of receiving needed help. This study used a brief, highly structured behavioral intervention to teach partners to identify and code effective and ineffective ways of communicating. The primary research question sought to determine whether learning a structured coding process would lead to observable behavior changes through increased use of validating communication behaviors and decreased use of invalidating communication behaviors during a conflict-based discussion with a partner. Secondary questions pertaining to effective communication, relationship satisfaction, and training satisfaction were also explored. Participants were 16 couples who identified as being in a committed (nonmarried), heterosexual relationship, ages 18-40 (M = 26.00, SD = 6.61), and who were interested in improving their communication skills. The study used a quasi-experimental, three-level multilevel model to assess for dependence and change in the dependent variable (communication behaviors) over time. Hypothesis testing using the multilevel model found a significant difference between intervention and control groups pre to post workshop. However, inconsistent with the hypothesis the control condition increased validations significantly while the intervention condition showed no significant change over time. No other significant difference between groups were found. Other areas of interest emerged from the data. Couples self-reported a benefit from engaging in the study; over 85% of couples reported feeling satisfied with their experiences in the workshop and gave positive feedback about their experience. Future studies may explore the mechanisms of change and the possibility of additional clinically relevant changes which are not measured in this study. Keywords: relationship education, couples, validation, invalidation.