“Do you love me?” Graduate student hopes to improve relationship communication skills

Award will fund dissertation research that will focus on excessive relationship-based reassurance-seeking and developing a brief intervention to address this maladaptive communication pattern in couples

When one or both partners feel insecure in a romantic relationship, the relationship is likely to suffer, confirming the anxious partner’s worries and perpetuating a cycle of negative communication. Christine Paprocki, a graduate student in the clinical psychology doctoral program at the University of North Carolina, received this year’s APF Randy Gerson Memorial Grant, which is awarded for student projects in family and/or couple dynamics, and/or multi-generational processes. Ms. Paprocki will use her $6,000 Gerson grant to fund dissertation research that will focus on excessive relationship-based reassurance-seeking (e.g., repeatedly asking a partner for affirmations of positive regard in order to reduce anxiety), and developing a brief intervention to address this maladaptive communication pattern in couples. Ms. Paprocki’s innovative research will contribute to the growing knowledge base and help generate effective couples therapy practices.