Category: Couples / Close Relationships

Symposium

Symposium 137 - Evaluating Individual Emotional Skillfulness in Relationship Health

Sunday, November 19
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Sapphire 400, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Couples / Close Relationships | Emotion | Transdiagnostic
Presentation Type: Symposium

Intimate relationship health, a key predictor of both psychological and physical well-being (Berger & Hannah, 1999; Kiecolt-Glaser & Newton, 2001; Whisman, 2007), depends upon a multitude of individual and relational skills centered around one’s reaction to emotion in all its varied expression. Emotional skillfulness, which broadly comprises the ability to aptly recognize and respond to both one’s own and others’ emotional experience, has been proposed as a more specific and relational conceptualization of the more common “emotion regulation” (Cordova, Gee & Warren, 2005; Mansfield, Addis, Cordova, & Dowd, 2009). This symposium will address various aspects of emotional skillfulness, including psychological flexibility, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and empathic accuracy, and evaluate whether and how these facets contribute to relationship health.


Given the transactional nature of relationships, couples research presents a particular set of methodological and statistical challenges. Accurately evaluating couple processes necessitates a nuanced understanding of the ways in which individual and relational emotion skills function within couples. To this end, the papers presented in this symposium employ an array of innovative research and statistical methods to examine how the aforementioned aspects of emotional skillfulness play out at both the individual and the dyadic level among community samples.


Presenting longitudinal findings from their Promoting Awareness, Improving Relationships (PAIR) intervention study, Ron Rogge and colleagues will begin by examining how individual psychological flexibility predicts treatment response, and ways in which dimensions of this construct function differentially for men and women. Emily Maher and James Cordova will discuss how specific, emotion-focused facets of mindfulness are related to relationship satisfaction at both the individual and dyadic level among a sample of meditators, exploring intimate safety and self-compassion as mediators of this relationship. James Doorley and colleagues will examine the extent to which individual distress tolerance and daily perceived distress predict relationship health, and will discuss how these findings differ for men and women. Finally, Evelyn Meier and colleagues will present findings from a daily diary study examining empathic accuracy and emotional awareness among couples. 


Dr. James V. Cordova will close the symposium. In addition to originating the construct of emotional skillfulness, Dr. Cordova has extensive experience in the development, evaluation, and dissemination of couples interventions. Dr. Cordova’s Marriage Checkup, a brief, preventive couples intervention, has been evaluated across a variety of populations including ethnically diverse, sexually diverse, low-income, and military populations. Thus, Dr. Cordova will address the relevance of this symposium to clinical practice and to strengthening existing couples interventions, giving particular consideration to the application of these findings across diverse contexts.

Learning Objectives:

Emily L. Maher

Doctoral Student
Clark University

Presentation(s):

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James Cordova

Professor
Clark University

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Ronald D. Rogge

Associate Professor
University of Rochester

Presentation(s):

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Emily L. Maher

Doctoral Student
Clark University

Presentation(s):

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James D. Doorley

Graduate Student
George Mason University

Presentation(s):

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Evelyn P. Meier

Doctoral Student
American University

Presentation(s):

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