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Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Clinical Psychology (MSCP)

Committee Chair

Daniel S. McKitrick

Second Advisor

Herman M. Frankel


The purpose of this thesis is to review existing primary prevention programs designed to prevent divorce and marital distress, and increase satisfaction and durability in marriage; and to evaluate such programs based on empirical findings of the significant variables in intimate relationships. A description of the prevalence of divorce and the impact of distress and dissatisfaction in marriage will be presented first as a rationale for pursuit of the study. The second major component will be a partial review of the literature in the area of research on relationships, specifically highlighting the factors that contribute to satisfying and stable marriages and the factors that contribute to distress in marriages and to divorce. Primary prevention will then be addressed briefly to specify the types of intervention programs of interest. Specific primary prevention programs designed to prevent divorce and marital distress then will be reviewed and evaluated in light of the previously described research on marital relationships. The final section of the paper will be a presentation of conclusions and suggestions for future research and intervention strategies. The literature search was conducted primarily on Psychlnfo and other online databases (e.g. Sociology abstracts) with combinations of the following keywords: 'divorce', 'prevention', 'marriage', 'relationships', and 'therapy' from 1990 to the present. In addition, separate searches were conducted for some of the most prominent authors in the field (e.g. Gottman, Markman), and significant studies were identified through a preliminary review of the literature and corresponding references.