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Welcome to the University of Louisville’s 

Relationship and Psychotherapy (RAP) Lab




Jesse Owen, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Dr. Owen is the founder and head of the Relationship and Psychotherapy Lab.

Dr. Owen's Faculty Page



Meg Manthos, M.Ed., LPA

Doctoral Candidate

Meg's focus at UofL is on training in couple and individual therapy and research on romantic and sexual relationships. Meg is currently working as a counselor at Greenline Wellness ( She is on track to complete her PhD in the summer of 2016.

Johanna Strokoff, M.A.

Doctoral Candidate

Johanna earned her Masters in Counseling Psychology at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland.  She is interested in couple attachment styles and multicultural differences in interpersonal relationships.

 Tyler new, no beard, not [as] creepy






Tyler Halford, M.S.

Doctoral Candidate 

Tyler earned his Masters in Clinical Psychology from Emporia State University. His current research focus is on the working alliance in couples therapy. He is also interested in work with stigma in the military culture.



Bethany Keller

Doctoral Student

Bethany earned her undergraduate degree at Indiana University. Her research interests are centered around both serious and casual relationships, as well as an interest in negative factors in dating relationships.



Joanna Drinane

Doctoral Student

Joanna earned her undergraduate degree at Tufts University. Her current research focus is on therapeutic alliance and multicultural competence in psychotherapy, with a particular interest in ethno-racial minorities.


Brent Luebcke

Doctoral Student

Brent earned his undergraduate degree from Purdue University and his Masters degree from Indiana University. His research interests are in psychotherapy process and outcome and romantic relationships.                                        



Darren Turner, BA

Masters Student

Darren earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Louisville in philosophy. He is interested in humility in relationship dynamics and its predictive power for psychotherapy outcomes using thin slice methodologies.



Kelley new

Kelley Quirk, M.A.

Doctoral Intern

Kelley earned her Masters in Counseling at Central Michigan University.  She is interested in romantic and therapeutic relationship dynamics, specifically, couple-identity and couple resiliency factors that enhance the outcomes of those relationships. Kelley is currently doing her pre-doctoral internship at the University of Utah Counseling Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Le'Keldric Thomas

Le'Keldric Thomas

Doctoral Student

Le'Keldric earned his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. His research interest is in relationship development, adjustment issues within couple relationships, and factors affecting racial/ethnic minority relationships.




Our mission is twofold: to contribute to the enhancement and understanding of couples' relationship functioning, and to develop a deeper understanding of the common and specific factors related to therapeutic effectiveness. An underlying assumption of our mission is that we contextualize our work through cross-cultural factors that are inherently interwoven with the lives of individuals, couples, and therapists.  Here are a few topics that we are examining:

   Romantic Relationships

  • How individuals approach relationship decisions, such as partner selection and transitions in relationships
  • The predictors and consequences of "hooking up" encounters and Friends With Benefits (FWB) relationships 
  • How to increase the effectiveness of relationship education programs for couples and individuals
  • The effectiveness of relationship education programs for lower-income racial/ethnic minorities


  • Clients' perceptions of their therapists' microaggressions (i.e., subtle racism and sexism)
  • Examining which factors are associated with therapists' effectiveness
  • Exploring common factors in therapy
  • The relationship between clients' view of the therapeutic alliance and Cognitive-Behavioral and Psychodynamic-Interpersonal techniques
  • Therapists' multicultural competencies
  • Therapist actions that promote activities between sessions
  • Therapist and process factors (i.e., alliance) in couple therapy

Ongoing Studies:

We collect data for our relationship and psychotherapy studies several times a year. In collaboration with Dr. Frank Fincham at Florida State University, we examine young adults’ hooking up and FWB relationships. These studies include cross-sectional and longitudinal assessments. We alsol collect psychotherapy data two times a year from the counseling center  at University of California, Davis, examining several common factor processes as well as therapists’ cultural competence. These studies typically focus on therapeutic process factors. Our recent partnership with the University of Louisville’s counseling center will enable us to expand our work examining psychotherapy process and outcomes. We also are examining the effects of relationship education programs on couples’ communication and relationship adjustment. If you are interested in participating in a couples relationship project, please contact the RAP Lab.

Collaboration Partners:

Our research team has a collaborative relationship with several other researchers and mental health clinics across the United States:  University of California, Davis, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS; Dr. Emil Rodolfa); University of Denver Center for Marital and Family Studies (Drs. Galena Rhoades, Scott Stanley & Howard Markman); Florida State University Family Institute (Dr. Frank Fincham); SGA Youth and Family Services, Chicago, IL; Adelphi University (Dr. Mark Hilsenroth); and University of Wisconson, Madison (Dr. Bruce Wampold). We also have many projects based in the Louisville area.


Recent Studies Published, Under Review, and In Progress (with abstracts):


Relationship Focused


Owen, Rhoades, Stanley, & Markman (2011) The Role of Leaders' Working Alliance in Premarital Education. Journal of Family Psychology:

Premarital (and general relationship) education programs, as a prevention method, have been shown to have a positive effect on marital quality and can prevent divorce. However, it is unclear whether these positive effects are consistent across leaders who conduct premarital education programs. Examining the variability in relationship outcomes attributed to the leaders of premarital education programs, and the role of general therapeutic factors such as working alliance in explaining relationship outcomes, may help increase the effectiveness of these programs. Accordingly, this study examined 31 leaders who trained 118 couples (236 attendees) in a randomized clinical trial of the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP), a research-based and empirically supported premarital education program being compared with a treatment as usual track. The results demonstrated that couples’ relationship outcomes from pre- to post-training varied on the basis of the leader who provided the premarital education training. Both training in PREP and aggregated leader working alliance quality (as rated by attendees) explained variability between leaders in change in attendees’ observed negative and positive communication. Leaders’ aggregated working alliance quality also explained change in relationship satisfaction. In addition, attendees’ ratings of their leaders’ working alliance predicted change in their relationship satisfaction and confidence, and attendees had higher positive communication when they reported better working alliance with their leader.

Owen, Fincham, & Moore (2011) Short-term prospective study of hooking up among college students. Archives of Sexual Behavior:

Hook ups are casual sexual encounters (ranging from kissing to intercourse) between two people with no clear mutual expectation of further interactions or a committed relationship. This study utilized a short-term prospective design to examine predictors of hooking up in a sample of young adults (N=394). Hooking up over the past year, positive reactions to prior hook ups, alcohol use, and loneliness were associated with hooking up over a 4-month period. Alcohol use was a stronger predictor for women than men. Thoughtfulness about relationship transitions and religiosity were significant predictors of hooking up in univariate analyses, but were not significant in multivariate analyses.Young adults who reported more depressive symptoms and feelings of loneliness at Time 1 and subsequently engaged in penetrative hook ups reported fewer depressive symptoms and lower feelings of loneliness at Time 2 as compared to young adults who did not hook up. However, young adults who reported fewer depressive symptoms and were less lonely at Time 1 and engaged in penetrative hook ups over the 4month period reported more depressive symptoms and greater feelings of loneliness at Time 2 as compared to young adults who did not hook up. Implications for relationship education programs are offered.


Psychotherapy Focused


Owen, Tao, Leach, & Rodolfa (2011) Clients' Perceptions of their psychotherapists' multicultural orientation. Psychotherapy:

The current retrospective study examined whether clients’ (N 176) perceptions of their psychotherapists’ multicultural orientation (MCO) were associated with their psychological functioning, working alliance, and real relationship scores. Moreover, we tested whether clients’ perceptions of the working alliance and the real relationship mediated the relationship between clients’ perceptions of their psychotherapists’ MCO and psychological functioning. The results showed that clients’ perceptions of their psychotherapists’ MCO were positively related to working alliance, real relationship, and psychological functioning. Only clients’ ratings of the working alliance mediated the relationship between clients’ perceptions of their psychotherapists’ MCO and psychological functioning. Thus, because clients perceive their psychotherapists as being more oriented toward cultural issues, they may view the therapist as being more credible and may gain a sense of comfort in the therapeutic process. In turn, clients’ strong alliance facilitates improvement in psychological well-being.

Owen, Leach, Wampold, & Rodolfa (2011) Client and therapist variability in clients' perceptions of their therapists' multicultural competencies. Journal of Counseling Psychology:

This study examined therapist differences in their clients’ ratings of their therapists’ multicultural competencies (MCCs) as well as tested whether therapists’ who were rated as exhibiting more MCCs also had clients who had better therapy outcomes (N 143 clients and 31 therapists). All clients completed at least 3 sessions. Results demonstrated that therapists accounted for less than 1% of the variance in their clients’ Cross-Cultural Counseling Inventory–Revised (CCCI-R; T. D. LaFromboise, H. L. K. Coleman, & A. Hernandez, 1991) scores, suggesting that  therapists did not differ in terms of how clients rated their MCCs. Therapists accounted for approximately 8.5% of the variance in therapy outcomes. For each therapist, their clients’ CCCI-R scores were aggregated to provide an estimate of therapists’ MCCs. Therapists’ MCCs, based on aggregate CCCI-R scores, did not account for the variability in therapy outcomes that were attributed to them. Additionally, clients’ race/ethnicity, therapists’ race/ethnicity, or the interaction of clients’–therapists’ race/ethnicity were not significantly associated with clients’ perceptions of their therapists’ MCCs.

Owen, Imel, Tao, Wampold, Smith, & Rodolfa (2010) Cultural ruptures in short-term therapy: Working alliance as a mediator between clients' perceptions of microaggressions and therapy outcomes. Counseling and Psychotherapy Research:

Aim: To determine whether or not clients’ perceptions of microaggressions varied based on their own and the therapist’s race/ethnicity and whether or not they would be negatively related to the effectiveness of therapy and if the working alliance would mediate this effect. Method: The study utilised a cross-sectional, retrospective, methodology. Clients were recruited from a large university counseling center in the United States (N232 clients and 29 therapists). Results: Neither clients’ race/ethnicity, therapists’ race/ethnicity, nor client-therapist ethnic matching predicted perceptions of microaggressions. Clients’ ratings of microaggressions were negatively associated with their psychological well-being; however, this effect was mediated by clients’ ratings of the working alliance. Implications: Therapists should take into account the cultural messages they may be conveying to both white and racial/ethnic minority clients. Therapists should develop strategies that are consistent with a general therapeutic approach that promotes discussions about culture with their clients and, most importantly, should attend to the therapeutic relationship.

Owen, Tao, & Rodolfa (2010) Microaggressions and women in short-term psychotherapy: Initial evidence. The Counseling Psychologist:

The current study retrospectively examined the relationship between female clients’ perceptions of microaggressions directed toward women, working alliance, and therapeutic outcomes (N = 121). A measure, the Microaggressions Against Women Scale (MAWS), was developed specifically for this study, based on a content review of the literature, focus group, and a panel of seven female psychologists. A latent class factor analysis (returning one factor) and internal consistency estimates supported the measure. Clients’ MAWS scores were negatively correlated with working alliance and therapy outcomes, suggesting that clients’ perceptions of microaggressions can influence the process and outcome of therapy. Last, working alliance mediated the negative relationship between microaggressions and therapy outcomes. Implications for practice and further research are provided.

Owen, Quirk, Hilsenroth, & Rodolfa (2011) Working through: In-session processes that promote between-session thoughts and activities. Journal of Counseling Psychology:

This study examined whether clients’ ratings of the working alliance as well as their perception of cognitive-behavioral (CB) and psychodynamic-interpersonal (PI) techniques (delivered by therapists who used both) were associated with clients’ intersession processes (i.e., their thoughts about therapy and therapeutic activity between sessions). Seventy-five clients who were currently in therapy at a large university counseling center participated in the current study. Multilevel regression analyses demonstrated that alliance and clients’ perceptions of their therapists’ use of PI techniques were positively associated with clients’ general thoughts about therapy between sessions. Also, stronger alliances were associated with more therapeutic activities between sessions and more positive (and less negative) thoughts about therapy between sessions. In addition, clients at later sessions who described their therapists as using more PI techniques also reported engaging in more therapeutic activities between sessions (after controlling for the variance in the other variables, such as use of CB techniques). Clients’ perceptions of their therapists’ use of CB techniques in the most recent session were not related to thinking about therapy or therapeutic activities after controlling for the variance in the other variables.


Click to see complete list of all research studies published, under review, and in progress


News and Information


Under the supervision of Dr. Owen, the members of the RAP Lab are currently conducting two psychotherapy studies: one for couples and one for individuals. For couples:  any couple (married or unmarried) interested in seeking to improve their relationship communication, commitment, or satisfaction, or looking for any form of relationship strengthening. For individuals: this study is examining process and outcome factors in therapy; anyone who is looking for help with any kind of personal concern with moods, thoughts, behaviors, or any other challenging situations. The therapy is free for both studies! If you are interested in receiving free couple or individual therapy, or if you want more information about these studies, you are encouraged to contact Dr. Owen:  502-852-0632

RAP Lab presents at the North American Society of Psychotherapy Research (NASPR) Conference



Johanna Strokoff presents a poster on Relationship Education for Distressed Couples at the NASPR Memphis conference, October, 2013.

RAP Lab members present at the Great Lakes Conference

Congratulations to Johanna Strokoff, Tyler Halford, Bethany Keller, Kelley Quirk, and Meg Manthos, who presented with Dr. Owen at the 2012 Great Lakes Conference for Counseling Psychology in March.  Thanks to everyone who attended, especially those who had comments and questions about the RAP Lab's research.  See you next year! 

APA 2011 in Washington D.C.

Kelley and Meg present their research at the American Psychological Association Annual Conference in Washington D.C., August, 2011

  Meg at APA 

Kelley at APA


Dr. Owen on the Dr. Stan Frager Show 

Listen to Dr. Owen discuss romantic relationships on a special Valentine's Day edition of WGTK's Let's Talk with Dr. Stan Frager. 

The RAP Lab made the news!

The Chicago Tribune attempts to demystify Friends With Benefits (FWB) relationships, and Dr. Owen is there to help.

 Accepting Students

The RAP Lab is currently accepting new students. We are looking for collaborative, motivated students who would like to expand their knowledge about relationships and psychotherapy.

Contact the RAP Lab about working with us
Information about the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Program


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