Undergraduate Psychology Home

Program Overview

Prospective Students

Degree Options

Awards & Scholarships

Current Students
Degree Options

Awards & Scholarships




Faculty & Staff


Center for Relationship Development
Les Parrott and Leslie Parrott, Directors

Even more than academic standing, career prospects, and earnings potential, students value healthy relationships. They are motivated to make bad relationships better and good relationships great.

In what may have been a first for an American educational institution, in 1992 Seattle Pacific University established the Center for Relationship Development (CRD) to help students learn to build healthy, lasting relationships.  Initially funded by grants from the Murdock Charitable Trust, the Center is dedicated to fostering positive relationships, whether they are with classmates, roommates, parents, teammates, siblings, bosses, or potential marriage partners. The Center aims to solve relationship problems before they begin. Its efforts focus on three major areas: education, outreach, and research.


Education.  Along with Seattle Pacific’s School of Psychology, Family, and Community, the Center for Relationship Development annually sponsors two academic courses in relationship development.

  • Relationship Development I focuses on practical principles for building healthy relationships. The class addresses such issues as the meaning of friendship, gender differences, family-of-origin concerns, unconscious relationship needs, and the dating process.

  • Relationship Development II is an advanced course presenting a practical basis for making healthy relational commitments. It focuses on such topics as love, intimacy, mate selection, and the meaning of covenant relationships.


Outreach. The Center for Relationship Development also sponsors special programs designed to meet specific relationship needs. These include efforts such as the following:

  1. Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts (SYMBIS). This marriage preparation workshop is offered each spring for engaged and newlywed couples. Topics include “The Myths of Marriage,” “Sexuality and Marriage,” “Fighting the Good Fight,” and “Money Matters.”

  2. The Marriage Mentor Club. A unique feature of the SYMBIS program links participants to married couples who serve as mentors during the newlywed’s first married year.

  3. Marriage Enrichment Seminar. The Center typically holds a region-wide event for couples of all ages and stages. While Les and Leslie Parrott are often the main stage speakers at the seminar, the event sometimes includes other experts in breakout sessions.

  4. Relationship Emphasis Week. Historically, the Center has sponsored a series of campus presentations on relationship issues that often feature nationally recognized relationship experts.


Research and Evaluation. In addition to serving as a kind of clearing house for relationship and marriage research, the CRD conducts ongoing scholarly research on relationship issues and puts that information to work in its education and outreach efforts (sometimes in partnership with other academic institutions). It also continuously evaluates its programs to ensure their effectiveness.