UO launches Healthy Nests to help expecting and new parents

Photo of Jeff Todahl, College of EducationEUGENE, Ore. -- (Aug. 10, 2009) -- A year-old pilot program -- the University of Oregon's Healthy Nest Project -- launches this week as a full-fledged, free consultation service to help couples maneuver through the maze of pressures that sometimes surface during early parenthood.

Healthy Nests builds upon long-running counseling services offered by the College of Education's Center for Family Therapy, but with more targeted outreach and early intervention for couples, married or in domestic partnerships and regardless of social status, who are expecting a new child or have a child under age 2.

The center started Healthy Nests a year ago on a limited, experimental basis, but its need quickly was realized, said Jeff Todahl, a professor of couples and family therapy in the college's department of counseling psychology and human services. The new project reflects findings of extensive research on troubling issues that often divide partners with the arrival of children.

"What we saw were a lot of couples seeking help after already experiencing a lot of pain and struggling," Todahl said. "By the time we were seeing them they were often in a lot of trouble. Our belief is that through early intervention, we can prevent some of the conflicts that can do serious damage to relationships and enhance the relationships for couples that are doing well."

Anyone wishing to take advantage of the Healthy Nests Project should call Todahl at 541-346-0919 or Deanna Linville, program director of Couples and Family Therapy, at 541-346-0921. Clients will be asked to fill out assessment information prior to attending the first of three sessions, which will be scheduled during day or evening hours based on client availability.

The counseling is designed to assess a relationship's strengths and weaknesses, challenges being faced, and implement strategies to address issues that are identified. The service, which aims to provide a positive influence on relationships and for the children, is conducted by graduate students in the Couples and Family Therapy program under the supervision of faculty.

Healthy Nests serves couples in distressed and non-distressed relationships.

Sessions will be held in the Center for Family Therapy in the new HEDCO Education Building, 1655 Alder Street, Suite 170.

Download a project brochure.