February 2, 2016 | By: Terrance Wade
Lexington, Ky.

Relationships need the proper attention and care to function properly just like many other things in our lives. Visiting a doctor regularly is necessary to maintain a healthy body, just as routine maintenance is key to keep a car running.

As Valentine's Day approaches, the University of Kentucky Family Center is offering free relationship checkups to the Lexington community. These checkups are available for married couples, couples who are dating, engaged and/or living together, as well as gay and lesbian couples. The sessions take place Feb. 10-16 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m and are free of charge.

A relationship checkup can be arranged by calling the UK Family Center at 859-257-7755, or by visiting the website at familycenter.uky.edu .The Family Center is located on the second floor of Scovell Hall on UK's campus.

“The relationship checkups seek to strengthen the relationship by finding out what you are doing right and helping the couple become even stronger by building on that instead of focusing on the negatives," said UK Family Center Director Tracey Werner-Wilson.

The UK Family Center suggests that everyone in a relationship should take advantage of these services, and not just couples who feel they are struggling in their relationship.

"Just like everyone needs a six-month checkup at the dentist to help keep their teeth healthy, so too everyone in a romantic relationship benefits from a relationship checkup," Werner-Wilson said.

Appointments usually last one hour. Couples fill out a questionnaire, which is reviewed by an intern therapist. The answers, in conjunction with conversation with the couple, allow the intern to coach the couple on what they are doing well and help them figure out areas of disagreement.

Intern therapists are master's students who are working to become licensed marriage and family therapists through UK's fully accredited Couple and Family Therapy Program. Within 16 months, these interns must log 500 hours of client contact. Interns are supervised and instructed three-four hours a week by a licensed marriage and family therapist.

To meet this demand for clients, the Family Center offers low-cost services to UK, Lexington, and surrounding communities. Utilizing a sliding scale fee, the Family Center works with clients to make therapy affordable for those who need it.

"Not only does it help our students attain the practice hours they need, but we see it as the service arm of UK's mission statement. This helps the students see the relationship as a client, and not an individual person. We are helping all Kentuckians create a better life for themselves. We are improving the lives of Kentuckians, which creates an attractive place for people to live," Werner-Wilson said.

The UK Family Center first opened its doors in 1988, serving families, couples, and individuals alike. Common needs addressed by the Family Center include stress, relationship issues, parent-child conflict, behavioral issues in children, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, play therapy is offered to families with young children.

The focus of family science is to help understand and improve the lives of individuals, working with the roles that family and interpersonal relationships perform in shaping one's experiences.

"We believe lasting change happens within relationships. As humans, we do not live in a vacuum. We are constantly in a relationship with someone, not always a romantic relationship. Sometimes these relationships try to sabotage us when we try to change. If we include those relationships within the therapy sessions, they can become a support for change instead of fighting against change," Werner-Wilson said.