Orange County Relationship Counseling For Teens and Young Adults

“Making Relationships Work for young adults and young parents” By Marline Pearson

Love Notes is geared towards older teens and young adults who are at risk of an unplanned pregnancy, troubled relationships, or who are already pregnant or parenting.

Love Notes aims to help young people make wise relationship and sexual choices—choices that will help them, rather than create barriers for achieving their education, employment, relationship, and family goals. Having a child young and single is too often the first step in a life-long cycle of unstable and poor quality serial relationships that diminish chances for child well being. Four out of 10 of today’s babies are born outside of marriage and youth are largely clueless about the serious disadvantages to children and to themselves of putting babies before marriage.
Relationships are the Missing Piece in Working with Higher Risk Youth
A fundamental premise of Love Notes is that one’s love life is not neutral. What happens with relationships can affect every aspect of life—school and work success, physical and mental health, and especially one’s child. Troubled, unstable or dangerous relationships and unplanned pregnancies have a way of derailing the progress young people may otherwise make in school, work, or parenting. Helping youth succeed requires attention to both education and employment (and parenting for some), as well as to healthy couple relationships.

Appealing to Aspirations and Building Assets
Love Notes builds assets and protective factors. It appeals to young people’s aspirations, rather than merely emphasizing what they must avoid. It offers engaging ways to learn more about themselves, to cultivate a vision of what they want for their future, to establish and to take steps towards their educational, parenting, employment and relationship goals.

Program participants gain not only self-knowledge, but also real skills for knowing what a healthy relationship is and isn’t, for choosing partners wisely, and for developing and maintaining healthy relationships. Love Notes provides participants:

  • Rich frameworks to assess current or past relationships
  • Encouragement to leave dangerous relationships safel
  • Skills to help  identify what might need to change or improve for a relationship they want to continue and deepen
  • How to go about their next relationship more wisely and cautiously.

Of special importance, participants acquire a powerful set of research-based skills for improving communication and their ability to handle conflict. Adapted from the acclaimed PREP® program for adults, these skills are critical for all relationships—work, school, peers, couple, and co-parenting.

Proactive Skills for Interpersonal Violence Prevention (IPV)
Love Notes offers a fresh, complementary approach to IPV prevention. Youth are short on models of healthy relationships—if you’ve never “seen good,” it narrows your sense of what’s possible. In-depth relationship education provides a positive and proactive way to address IPV by equipping young people with knowledge, skills, and a vision to move towards what they want – not just away from what’s harmful. Love Notes contains activities to not only raise awareness of abuse but also to practice setting boundaries and to apply them at the first sign of disrespect. It motivates by raising awareness of the impact of dangerous relationships on children.
New Strategies for Pregnancy Prevention & Wise Sexual Choices

Addressing issues of the heart, not just risks and health, encourages and empowers youth to cultivate a “North Star” for their sexual lives. They gain a better understanding of intimacy, decide what they want sex to mean, where they want to set their boundaries, and how they want to pace their physical involvement in a relationship.
The PREP® model of Sliding vs. Deciding from the research of Scott Stanley and Galena Rhoades is used within Love Notes to encourage participants to make decisions rather than merely slide into situations that increase risk and diminish options in life.

The range of choices youth can make are dealt with head on, with room for young adults to decide if or when they will have sex, accentuating the impact of relationships and sexual behavior on their options in life and the welfare of their child. The approach taken encourages setting boundaries on sexual behavior while allowing participants to be fully informed on birth control.

Most importantly, young people are encouraged to step outside themselves to look more deeply at the consequences of unplanned pregnancy for children. By placing the child at center stage in the activities, participants see the consequences of sliding into unplanned pregnancy (a first or a second), and the “relationship turbulence” that often accompanies it, through the eyes of a child.  Examining how an unplanned pregnancy can disadvantage or hurt a child may tap a more powerful source of motivation to more consciously plan to prevent a first or second pregnancy. It helps bring home to young people why it really, really matters to avoid pregnancy, or to wait on having a second child until other things are in place like an education and a healthy, committed relationship, like marriage.

Love Notes contains a strong planning message for young parents and young singles alike— it takes real planning to stick to one’s sexual boundaries and desired pacing of physical intimacy and it takes real planning to be a “stickler” on birth control to prevent pregnancy.

Connectedness to Caring and Wise Adults
Every lesson of Love Notes contains an engaging Trusted Adult Connection piece. These activities are meant to serve as conversation starters, while conveying the core concepts and offering talking points to the mentor adult. It is a powerful protective factor when young people can dialogue with a caring, wise adult on these very important issues.
Marline Pearson – The Dibble Institute

Creator of Love Notes, Marline Pearson is well known for developing innovative youth programs about relationship skills. Several of her courses have been featured in numerous national media.
Among her other achievements are:

  • Developer of the acclaimed and extensive Love U2 curricula, published by The Dibble Institute.
  • Co-author with Scott Stanley and Galena Kline Rhoades, of Within My Reach®, a program for helping individuals—primarily single mothers and fathers who struggle with economic hardship—achieve their goals in relationships, family and marriage.
  • Co-author with Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, of Making a Love Connection: Teen Relationships, Pregnancy, and Marriage, a report commissioned by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
  • Author of “Can Kids Get Smart About Marriage: A Veteran Teacher Reviews Some of the Leading Relationship and Marriage Programs,” published by the National Marriage Project of Rutgers University.
  • Author of “Reaching for Higher Ground: New Approaches to Teen Sexuality,” published in the Journal of Council on Family Relations.

Marline Pearson has been teaching social science and criminology at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wisconsin, for over 25 years. Her longstanding interest in high-risk kids and families with a focus on risk and prevention led to her interest in relationship building. In addition to social science classes, Ms. Pearson has pioneered a unique relationship skills class as part of a student success initiative.

Long active in educational improvement, Ms. Pearson created and taught an active-learning and teaching improvement program at her college for a number of years.
Pearson is frequently called upon to discuss teen and young adult relationships and has conducted numerous trainings on teen and adult relationships, sexuality and marriage skills She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and two teen-aged daughters, and holds an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Please contact us at (714) 381-3007 regarding upcoming Love Notes classes.