Integratus: Inaugural Editors’ Choice Award Winners

Catholic Psychotherapy Association Announces Inaugural Editors’ Choice Award Winners

Dr. Robert Kugelmann and Dr. Jesse Fox, co-editors of Integratus, the official journal of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association, are proud to announce the inaugural winners of the Editors’ Choice Award: Dr. Christopher Gross and Dr. Julia Klausi. 

The Editors’ Choice Award is given periodically to a selected article published in Integratus based on mission fit with the journal, relevance to journal readership, methodological rigor, and clinical application.  Winners of the award receive $250.00, organizational recognition, and spotlighted through broad dissemination of their scholarship.

Drs. Gross and Klausi authored the article, Natural Family Planning for Catholic Couples: Relationship Functioning, Prevalance, and Predictors of Use, which was published in the June 2023 issue of Integratus. We thank Drs. Gross and Klausi for their important scholarship and for taking some time to answer questions about their research. We encourage everyone to read the full article, found in Integratus:

About the Authors

Christopher Gross, Ph.D.

Dr. Christopher Gross is Assistant Professor at Divine Mercy University. Faculty profile:

Julia Klausli, Ph.D.

Dr. Julia Klausli is Director of MS Psychology program at Divine Mercy University. Faculty Profile:

Article Spotlight: A Brief Interview with the Authors

Why are you interested in Natural Family Planning (NFP)? 

Despite the reported benefits of NFP for couples, we were aware that many Catholic couples opt not to practice NFP.  We were curious to learn about the couples who were married in the Church but chose to use artificial contraception rather than NFP.  

What was the primary research question/hypothesis of your article?

We sought to investigate what factors predicted NFP use as well as the effects of NFP on relationship functioning and spiritual intimacy. 

What was the key findings? 

We found that even though most couples were exposed to NFP in premarital education, that increased exposure did not impact their decision to use NFP.  However, cohabitation prior to marriage predicated less likelihood of using NFP, while viewing marriage as sacred and shared Mass attendance indicated higher likelihood of NFP use. Furthermore, using NFP predicted higher spiritual intimacy for couples as well as higher relationship satisfaction. 

How can mental health practitioners help other couples and marriages based on your research?

Results of the study indicated that using NFP predicted higher spiritual intimacy for couples as well as higher relationship satisfaction in some cases. Working with Catholic couples, mental health practitioners can build on these findings and help couples conceptualize the use of NFP as an expression of their faith that can be associated with spiritual well-being and relationship satisfaction. 

As results indicated that couples’ increased exposure to NFP from premarital education did not impact their decision to use NFP in marriage, practitioners and even church ministers working with couples will want to explore other factors related to the couple’s choice of following this aspect of the Church’s teaching or not. A psycho-educational intervention is unlikely to be effective.

How can other researchers extend your study to other research studies? 

More research is needed to determine if yearlong NFP programs as part of marriage preparation led to higher use.  Also, while our study briefly addressed the importance of mentor couples, more research is needed to determine how a mentor couple might impact a couple’s decision to use NFP due to ongoing support.

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