Pub talk to focus on love, and making it better

Chocolates, greeting cards and message-carrying candy hearts aside, how’s your relationship with your bestie? That’s the big question and topic for the Feb. 7 Quack Chats pub talk in downtown Eugene.

Valentine’s Day makes for a good time each year to “pause and reflect” on important relationships, said Tiffany Brown of the UO’s Couples and Family Therapy program and clinical director of its free and popular Relationship Check-in, which this year has expanded from annually to monthly.

Her Quack Chats talk, “Love Lessons: How to Build (and KEEP) Successful Relationships,” will begin at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 7, at the Ax Billy Grill & Sports Bar at the Downtown Athletic Club, 999 Willamette St. Admission is free. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

In her talk, Brown will detail the College of Education’s Couples and Family Therapy program, which each year admits some 20 students pursuing a master’s degree that prepares them for licensure and a career in counseling. She’ll also describe the Relationship Check-in, which welcomes the public for a free session with a student.

Check-ins aren’t just for people in loving relationships, said Brown, who also is a lecturer in the Department of Counseling Psychology and Human Services. The clinic has had sessions with romantic couples of all ages, in distress or doing well, roommates looking to navigate how they share a dorm room or apartment, siblings and parents.

A good starting point for any relationship, she said, is identifying what is going well and celebrate that before digging into any problems.

"If you can talk about what's going well, it becomes easier to talk about what's not going well," Brown said. "In relationships, we sometimes get mired down in complaints. There's always something to celebrate, but it sometimes takes some time to find it."

The Relationship Check-In approach, she said, is built on communication theory and the evidence-based couples therapy model of John and Julie Gottman, who run the Gottman Institute in Seattle, and strives to help people interact better.

In the 2016-17 academic year, students doing the clinics held sessions with 4,197 people in 2,991 sessions. While the initial check-in is free, additional sessions, if desired, are possible for a fee.

“The importance of pausing and checking in and asking questions we don’t tend to ask and being open to the answers is key for relationships. For us, as a clinic, one of our core values is to be open and overt about our needs,” Brown said. “If we can spend some time checking in, and realizing what our needs are, then we might be able to get them.”

People attending Brown’s talk might just leave with some tips for maintaining and improving their relationships.

For more information, see: Relationship need a tuneup? A UO clinic has a lot of love to share.

To learn more about upcoming Quack Chats, see the Quack Chats section on Around the O. A general description of Quack Chats and a calendar of additional Quack Chats and associated public events also can be found on the UO’s Quack Chats website.

—By Jim Barlow, University Communications