Equipping couples with the tools to cope with predictable and unpredictable crisis events: the PREP Program

Int J Emerg Ment Health. Winter 2002;4(1):49-55.


The current article focuses on the application of crisis intervention principles to primary prevention programs for marital distress. The Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) is a universal, empirically-supported preventative intervention program that teaches couples skills that decrease relationship risk factors and increase protective factors. These skills, mainly conflict resolution and communication skills, serve to protect relationships from the negative impact of both normative transitional crises (e.g., marriage) and other non-predictive crises. PREP emphasizes the development and maintenance of intimacy, commitment, and friendship in the relationship, which not only protects couples from the negative ramifications of crisis events, but may also decrease the chance of such crises happening in the first place. Research has shown that PREP significantly decreases multiple indicators of marital distress as much as four years after participation in the program in both clinical and community settings. PREP has also been shown to increase marital satisfaction.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Crisis Intervention*
  • Humans
  • Marital Therapy*
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Problem Solving*