BERLIN — Partners looking to build a better foundation for their relationship are invited to attend a Couples Enrichment Workshop hosted by Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) in March.
The workshop isn’t just for couples in troubled waters, said organizers, but for any pair at any commitment or satisfaction level who would like to grow their partnership.
“There are some very basic and simple strategies that can be very effective,” said Dr. Jennifer Leggour.
The enrichment workshop is currently scheduled to begin Tuesday, March 12. It will be a four-week course that will take place every Tuesday starting next week from 6 to 7 p.m. Caryn Horn, a WYFCS therapist who specializes in relationships, will conduct the workshops. She explained that each class will have a central theme.
“It’s going to be split so that each time we meet there will be a topic,” she said.
Themes will include things like communication, supporting your partner, managing anger in a relationship and validating your partner. Though it will be spread over four weeks, Horn emphasized the inter-linking structure of the workshop with each session laying the groundwork for the next. Communication is usually the underlying problem in most relationship conflicts, she added.
Leggour admitted that “often times there can be a stigma associated with formal [couples] therapy,” which is why WYFCS decided to conduct a less formal enrichment workshop.
“So we were thinking maybe if we offered a workshop it would seem a little less threatening, a little less scary and you could learn some valuable tools,” she said.
With it being a more informal setting, Leggour also noted that all couples should be comfortable attending and taking home skills that can be applied at any level of a partnership.
“I see the skills as valuable for any couple at any level in their relationship,” she said. “These are things that you can use in your dynamic whether you’re feeling good or you’re feeling in distress. They’re helpful tools.”
Horn agreed that even non-married partners should feel relaxed in the workshop.
“It could really be for anyone,” she said. “Couples who are married, not married, dating serious, any spectrum of commitment.”
The workshop itself will focus on promoting the communication that couples often neglect and will include role-playing, basic strategies for problem solving, and suggestions for further enrichment activities outside of the workshop.
“There’s making a bucket list of what the couples want to do in their lifetime,” said Horn as an example.
Depending on the success of the first four-week workshop, WYFCS might expand the enrichment work into a regular event.
“We’ll see what happens but there’s some opportunity for expansion,” said Leggour.
According to Horn, some states are currently looking at legislation that would encourage couples to attend some type of therapy or enrichment workshop either prior to getting a marriage license or before a divorce. Leggour took this as a sign that a lot of attitudes on relationship counseling in the mainstream are favorable.
“So there’s a lot of value being placed on trying to be healthy and save your relationship,” she said.
For the workshop, an ideal class would probably be about 10 members or five couples, said Horn.
Each of the four sessions will cost $25, though most insurance will be accepted. Daycare will be available. To register for the WYFCS Couples Enrichment Workshop, call 410-641-4598 or visit their office at 124 North Main Street in Berlin, which is also where the workshop will be hosted.