Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Process of confronting with divorce and relational family therapy

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
5.09.00  Social sciences  Psychology   

Code Science Field
H002  Humanities  Theology 

Code Science Field
5.01  Social Sciences  Psychology and cognitive sciences 
divorce, emotional processing, relational family therapy, psyhotherapy
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (8)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  32861  PhD Mateja Cvetek  Theology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  106 
2.  26123  PhD Robert Cvetek  Theology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  162 
3.  18052  PhD Christian Gostečnik  Psychology  Head  2014 - 2017  1,187 
4.  36602  PhD Drago Jerebic  Theology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  449 
5.  32758  PhD Saša Poljak Lukek  Psychology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  112 
6.  28518  PhD Tanja Repič Slavič  Psychology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  200 
7.  36724  PhD Nataša Rijavec Klobučar  Theology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  126 
8.  25440  PhD Barbara Simonič  Theology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  439 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0170  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Theology  Ljubljana  1627112  12,074 
2.  2333  Franciscan Family Institute  Ljubljana  5931983  177 
The research project entitled The process of coping with divorce and relational family therapy focuses on exploring specific areas of family and marital relations when they came up against the fact that a couple or parents are being separated or they already broke up. Divorce or disintegration of a long-lasting relationship are, according to many studies, one of the most stressful and mentally exhausting non-normative life changes, as almost every divorce, regardless of the circumstances, represents a difficult experience that reaches deep into individuals' lives and life of a family as a system, and thereby also into the wider society. Divorce is a difficult and complex situation that affects the functionality of the functioning of the individual and the entire family system, since it has many emotional, social and economic consequences for the partner, children and extended family, which usually continue for a long time after all the formal aspects of divorce have already been arranged.   According to statistical data, the number of divorces keeps increasing, which, in addition to mentioned difficulty of the process further dictates the need for a deeper examination of the situation of individuals when they are confronted with this experience (as partners or children of separated parents). Many complications arise primarily from deeper and unresolved emotional distress arising upon divorce and which remain enshrined in the experience of partners and children. Adjustment to the new situation following divorce, does not mean only rearranging the economic and marital status and arranging new living conditions, but also requires an individual to enter into an emotional process in which this experience becomes acceptable and emotionally manageable. The present research project is therefore focused on studying the emotional aspects of the process of divorce.   The research project will focus on exploring the emotional circumstances upon divorce, the process of dealing with them, exploring the emotional needs of individuals and we will analyse the links with some other circumstances (relationship in primary family, past traumatic experiences, religiosity), which can either encourage or hinder this process of coping. All these aspects will be studied from the perspective of the paradigm of relational family therapy, which ranks among the contemporary relational psychotherapeutic approaches. Relational family therapy model focuses on the processing of painful emotions that are compulsively repeated in the life of a patient and represent disruptive affective conditions that prevent the establishment of healthy relationships. Relational family therapy, as such, allows patients deep addressing of the dynamics of all painful emotional states, even those that are waking up in different stages of the process of divorce. Emotional dynamics in recent years proved to be an extremely important factor in the successful therapeutic treatment in a wide area of perceived psychological problems and we can expect that it plays an extremely important role also in solving problems in the process of separating parents. Processes of emotional dynamics upon divorce and in conjunction with the process of relational family therapy will be studied within three interrelated content sets of the project: 1. Characteristics of emotion and emotional processing in the process of coping with divorce; 2. Exploring relational factors and past experience in relation to the performance of emotional coping with divorce; 3. The process of relational family therapy upon divorce.   The basic purpose of the research project is thus to verify and define relational family therapy as an integrated model of (psycho) therapeutic treatment of families in the process of separating parents.
Significance for science
The project was important for the development of science by itself, since the relational model of marriage and family therapy is an innovative approach to solving problems in interpersonal relations, partnerships, marriage and family, as evidenced by the award received at the Slovenian Innovation Forum of the Year 2010. This approach , developed in Slovenia, includes important international findings, but also adds important new aspects to this pool of knowledge. The results of the project, which was the application of this model of marital and family therapy in solving problems related to the processing of divorce, are innovative not only on the Slovenian but also on the international level. The results present a scientifically founded starting point for further research on relationships, while their findings are also important for other scientific fields: at the time of carrying out the research project, it has been shown that such accessible sources and references from the studied area are not obtainable in Slovenia. Empirically derived results do not cover only the specific area of separation: within the research project, the model of relational family therapy was empirically verified, which is an important contribution to the development of psychotherapeutic science. By developing specific tools for monitoring adults in the process of separation, the results significantly complemented this area of expertise in Slovene and international space both methodologically and practically, since before the project started we had found the lack of specific instruments for the research of adult coping with separation. Given that the researchers who carried out the project, in addition to being involved in academic work, perform clinical practice, the results enabled them to immediately apply scientific knowledge in their daily work. The combination of scientific research work and immediate clinical practice thus enables the development of a scientifically founded and empirically verified model of solving problems at hand.
Significance for the country
Results for the development of Slovenia Through new discoveries about separation in Slovenia, the results bring a new insight into the problem of separation for all family members who are directly or indirectly faced with this life event. The new knowledge and findings are already being disseminated by mass media. They provide opportunities for formal and informal learning and education through professional and lay literature, scientific and professional meetings, as well as the training of professionals who work with families, individuals and children before, during and after separation, and thus affect the changes and development of the society in which we live. In-depth study of the separation process has increased the understanding of this crucial turning point in life as an extremely difficult transition which requires the transformation of people involved and, consequently, opens new possibilities of quality preventive and curative programs for support and education. The results therefore significantly contribute to and benefit these issues, including the prevention of the negative consequences of separation as well as pre-separation prevention. The results contribute to a more de-stigmatized search for help in solving problems and distress at the time of separation, providing opportunities for society to accommodate people seeking help as a normal constructive part of everyday life. The results can also serve to improve the systemic regulation of health care, social care, psychosocial and other sources of help (financing, organization, being accessible, widespread, available, innovative, holistic, continuous, focused on effects, etc.) and educational counselling opportunities at all levels of education (workshops, parental education, counselling for children, mediation, etc.). Due to the decline in mental and physical health, which is a consequence of stress before, during and after separation, productivity is reduced, absence from work increases, etc. Therefore, the results have a positive impact on the consequences of divorce for the economy. The results can also be of great use in the education of staff in social care and mental health care. The usefulness of the results is also reflected in that they can serve as an example of good practice of directly integrating scientific research work and clinical practice in solving divorce-related issues. In the long term, we want the results that have shown the utmost importance of a comprehensive approach to solving the issues of divorce, which addresses both marital as well as parental and child aspects, contribute to the state’s promotion of efficient care for this population. The long-term effects of the results are the improvement of general social well-being. Families as well as individuals will benefit from improving their knowledge and skills for coping with separation: strengthening their physical and mental health and promoting lifelong learning will also positively affect the society as a whole.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
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