Couples University

Essential Tools to Build a Solid Relationship

Couples University was a workshop series with relationship education for married and unmarried couples. No workshops are scheduled at this time. However, you can review the overview below for more information and resources. You can also browse our blog, recommended books list, or sign up for our relationship newsletter for more relationship advice and resources.

The Couples University Curriculum

This religion-neutral Couple Relationship Education workshop covers the following areas:

  • Foundations for relationship success
  • Creating “we-ness”
  • Managing differences and conflict
  • Communication 101
  • Connection and intimacy

The workshop has a didactic portion and a skill building portion. This means that part of the time, couples are listening to the instructors and participating in discussions, and in the other part the couples are talking to each other, doing interesting exercises and learning new skills. During the exercises part, the instructors are going around the room answering questions and giving feedback.

There is time for one break in the morning, a lunch break and another break in the afternoon.

At the end of the workshop, we issue a certificate of attendance.

See comments from couples who attended a recent CU workshop in an article published by the Chicago Tribune!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Couples University?

Couples University (CU) is a Couple and Relationship Education organization that focuses on teaching couples the tools they need to build a successful relationship.

Why take a Couple Relationship education course?

Sustaining a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship across time poses substantial challenges for contemporary couples.

Almost all committed relationships begin with high levels of satisfaction that decline over time. However, the erosion of satisfaction is not inevitable.

Couples who develop core relationship skills can stay ahead of the divorce curve. Couple interaction is the most important factor in predicting relationship satisfaction.

Couple Relationship education has shown play a crucial role in helping couples to sustain a stable relationship.

Being in a mutually satisfying relationship is associated with physical health, psychological well being and financial stability. Additionally, children benefit from a strong relationship between their parents.

How do CU workshops differ from couples counseling?

Couples counseling is different from Couples Relationship Education Programs such as the one offered through Couples University.

Couples Counseling is for couples in moderate to severe distress who are looking for individualized treatment for their marital or relational problems and who are looking to change their interactions.

CU consists of information and education for couples who are either not in distress or who are at a low to moderate level of distress and who wish to learn what constitutes a successful relationship and the tools to achieve it.

The education workshops of CU are conducted in classroom style settings. Counseling is provided to individual couples in confidential office settings.

Who can benefit from the Couples University workshops?

CU workshops are designed to help couples in all relationship stages:

  • Dating couples
  • Engaged couples
  • Couples who are living together
  • Married couples
  • Same sex couples

How is CU different from other programs?

CU workshops focus on prevention of destructive conflict. Poor conflict management is a predictor of deteriorating relationship satisfaction.

Our workshop offers skills training and feedback in a classroom like atmosphere. CU offer a religious-neutral curriculum.

Who are the founders of CU?

The founders of CU, Dr. Sara Schwarzbaum, LMFT, and Julienne Derichs, LCPC, are expert couples and marriage counselors.

Sara Schwarzbaum is a professor at NEIU in Chicago where she trains the next generation of counselors. She is the founder of Couples Counseling Associates in Chicago.

Julienne Derichs is the founder of Couples Counseling Today and her practice is located in the Northern suburbs of Chicago. She specializes in work with couples. For more information about Julienne Derichs, please visit her home page.

Sara and Julienne decided to expand their practices on the premise that there are crucial skills, attitudes and knowledge that give partners a better chance of developing and sustaining a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship.



We did a lot of research looking for a practice that specializes in couples work only. It gave us comfort to know we were in the hands of a specialist. And we were glad we did.

We are very glad we had your guidance. We are doing very well. We have come a long way since we first went to see [our therapist]. We wanted to drop you a line to say: Thanks!

Our counselor is a dedicated professional, carefully preparing for each client meeting. She is highly intelligent, is an excellent listener and picks up on non verbal cues. She skillfully guides her clients to make positive behavioral changes. I have worked with several therapists and our counselor was the first to help me make genuine changes. Our relationship has improved significantly as a result of our work with her.

Relationship Resources for You and Your Partner

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Check out the Rules for Relationship Success lesson series to get an entire set of exercises that will help you improve communication with your partner and strengthen your relationship.
Read the Couples Counseling Relationship Blog, where we explore everything about relationships: marriage, sex, dating, separation, relationship advice, challenges, and more.
Take a relationship quiz and see how you and your partner do.
Listen to Couples Counseling founder, Dr. Sara Schwarzbaum, talk about relationships on the radio — plus, additional interviews, tips, and advice she’s provided in the media. Read and listen →

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