Northwest NEWS

July 5, 1999

Home & Garden

Evergreen offers life enrichment seminar for couples

by Deborah Stone, features writer

   In an effort to promote healthy families and provide children with a strong home environment, the Family Maternity Center at Evergreen Hospital Medical Center is offering a new life enrichment seminar called IMET: Keys for Couples, to help new parents deal with conflict and strengthen the intimacy of their relationship.

   The new eight-hour seminar is based on the popular I.M.E.T. (Intensive Marriage Enhancement Training) program developed by Keith Robertson, MA, director of Northwest Counseling Services in Seattle. Robertson facilitates the seminars and explains that they are different than other "couples seminars" that offer motivational pep talks and focus on teaching communication skills that do not have very long-term benefits.

   "We've all heard that communication is the key to a good marriage. Well, research shows that's a myth," he said. "In fact, studies reveal that people with superior communication skills are just as likely to use them to control and manipulate. Our program takes a very nontraditional approach to relationships."

   The IMET: Keys for Couples program focuses on three keys to a good marriage: learning healthy conflict resolution, learning strong emotional intimacy skills and understanding the influences of the family of origin on present relationships.

   "Conflict resolution is the key to a healthy relationship," states Robertson. "It's important to try and unravel the conflicts that matter, that threaten the relationship."

   The seminar also covers nine major relationship concepts that range from anger to intimacy and accepting change. The seminar takes a structured, sequential approach to learning and is designed to protect privacy and provide opportunities for couples to talk confidentially as they work through short non-threatening exercises. The principles taught can be applied to various child rearing and family relation issues.

   Evergreen's class is for couples with different levels of conflict: healthy relationships with normal levels of conflict, stuck marriages, and troubled marriages. Since the hospital first started offering the program in January, it has received very positive feedback from participants, and seminar attendance has continued to grow.

   "The mission of the hospital is to support and promote the well-being of people who live in our community; what this means in terms of family is providing a safe pregnancy with good prenatal care, a healthy birth experience, and harmony in the family. We know that children are better off when they go home with parents who have healthy relationships and skills for resolving conflicts," says Ann Keppler, RN, MN, Coordinator of the Family Maternity Education Program at Evergreen. "Our goal is to help foster the growth of positive and strong families in our community."

   IMET: Keys for Couples is held monthly and consists of a Friday evening session from 7-9:30 p.m. and a Saturday session from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $147 per couple. The next seminar is scheduled for July 9-10. For registration information, call Evergreen Health Line at 425-899-3000.