World renowned author and marriage therapist offers ‘ScreamFree’ workshops in Stuttgart

By Greg Jones
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

World-renowned marriage therapist and best-selling author, Hal Runkel, held “scream free” workshops March 4 and 6 at Patch Barracks for Stuttgart couples wishing to improve their relationships and build on parenting skills.

The March 4 workshop focused on parenting skills while the March 6 workshop focused on how couples can communicate better without screaming.

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World-renowned marriage therapist and best-selling author Hal Runkel addresses couples from the Stuttgart military community during a ScreamFree workshop on Patch Barracks. The workshop was part of a series of ScreamFree events coordinated by U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s Family Advocacy Program. Photo by Greg Jones.

The two-hour workshops, sponsored by the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s Family Advocacy Program, presented the core of Runkel’s trademarked “ScreamFree” approach to marital conflict and parenting.

The first and most important principle of Runkel’s approach, to which he repeatedly referred throughout the seminar, is “calm down, grow up and get closer.” This core principle of Runkel’s technique seemed to be the biggest take-away for some attendees.

“It helped us to learn to take a deep breath and not be reactionary, and present yourself in an appropriate manner,” said Dale Burkard, who attended with his wife Jurang. “Things just escalate if you don’t do that; if you are reactionary.”

Techniques like this, and the other five core principles of Runkel’s program were introduced in these seminars, which go hand in hand with Runkel’s book, “Scream Free Marriage: Calming Down, Growing Up, and Getting Closer.”

While the ScreamFree marriage program is targeted at all couples wanting to improve their relationships, it is of particular value to military couples who endure stresses on their family lives not experienced by most couples, according to Runkel.

“The Army has been very forward thinking in how it helps families deal with multiple deployments, although sometimes it feels like we are throwing pebbles into tidal waves,” Runkel said. “What is being asked of families is incredible. So the idea that folks can come out to an event, see the commander and his wife sitting in the front row, kind of gives them this sense that it’s OK to struggle with the most important relationship in their lives.”

The basic idea of the ScreamFree approach, according to Runkel’s book, is “learning to relate with others in a calm, cool and connected way, taking hold of your own emotional responses no matter how anyone else chooses to behave; learning to focus on yourself and take care of yourself for the world’s benefit.”

In addition to the ScreamFree seminars, the Family Advocacy Program also held two train-the- trainer events to certify new parent/marriage facilitators in the Stuttgart military community.

Participants representing FAP, Behavioral Health, the Religious Support Office, Child Youth and School Services, New Parent Support Program, Army Community Service, Exceptional Family Member Program and several Military Family Life Counselors attended. Both classes had 18 and 17 participants daily over the four-day period.

For more information on upcoming related Family Advocacy Program events, including Stress Management and Managing Emotions, call 431-3362/civ. 07031-15-3362.

For more information about the ScreamFree approach, visit here.