Copyright 2018 Marline E. Pearson Improving Communication Skills This program includes a powerful set of evidence-based skills to improve communication, assertiveness, negotiation, and the handling of conflict. These skills are adapted from PREP, the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program.2 Youth practice new ways to handle anger and regulate strong emotions. They learn a technique for how to talk through difficult or sensitive issues. They learn how to more effectively raise issues and complaints, recognize hidden issues, and solve problems within their relationships. The communication skills are central to self-regulation. New Tools for Dating Violence Prevention Building robust knowledge and skills for healthy relationships provides a positive and proactive way to prevent dating violence. It is difficult to steer clear of, or exit, a destructive relationship if all you see are unhealthy relationships and you have no clue how to build a healthy relationship. The vision building, skills, guides, and decision-making frameworks in Relationship Smarts PLUS-SRA help raise young people’s confidence that they can develop healthy relationships. A Heart-based Approach to Pregnancy/STD Prevention Relationship Smarts PLUS-SRA contains a missing piece in sexual decision-making and pregnancy prevention by addressing relationship issues. After all, sex is a relationship issue. For example, can young people make wise sexual choices with conviction that sticks if they: • Have never clarified what’s important to them? • Know little about how to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy and/or abusive relationships? • Lack communication and negotiation skills? • Have never defined a context for sex that is optimal for achieving their goals and personally meaningful? Youth are rarely asked to think about sex beyond the usual health paradigm of reproduction, disease, and risk avoidance. If young people have never considered what deepening levels of physical intimacy mean to them and the optimal context (healthy marriage) to achieve that meaning, then how are they to make wise sexual decisions and stick to their choices? Sex is not just about bodies, risks, and protection. It’s about knowing one’s self and one’s values, and possessing the skills to navigate this terrain. It is ultimately about the heart and aspirations. Relationship Smarts PLUS-SRA takes a heart-based approach and provides unique ways to tap into the motivation to choose sexual delay. The decision-making frameworks in Relationship Smarts PLUS-SRA help youth clarify sexual values and set boundaries and clear intentions about sex and relationships. Teens outline a plan to stay true to those intentions and practice, through role-plays, how to do so. They deepen their awareness of how and why alcohol and drugs increase risky behaviors and include that in their sexual risk avoidance plans. Relationship Smarts PLUS-SRA does not normalize teen sexual activity but encourages sexual delay and risk avoidance through stories, film, music, and the voices of young adults. Activities guide youth in cultivating a North Star for their love lives rather than merely following iv
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