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SEED Research Center


Galena Rhoades, PhD



Research Professor
Frontier Hall, 215
Phone: 303-871-4280
Website: Prenatal Hospital-based healthy Relationship Education: MotherWise



Galena Rhoades, Ph.D., is a Research Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Denver. Her research is on romantic relationship development and functioning, and the related implications for children and adults. Her research projects and collaborations include 1) basic science studies on commitment, cohabitation, aggression, infidelity, family background, relationship processes and psychopathology, military families, and adolescent and child adjustment as well as 2) studies on the effectiveness of preventive relationship interventions for couples and individuals (including gene-environment interactions). She is currently working as a PI, Co-I, evaluator or consultant on several foundation or federally-funded projects. As examples, one project is testing the effectiveness of hospital-based relationship education delivered to pregnant women (funded by ACF) and another is on measuring and modeling early relationship development (funded by NICHD). In addition to conducting research, she collaborates with PREP, Inc. in the development of relationship education curricula (e.g., Within My Reach and Within Our Reach). A particular interest in this applied work is the prevention of intimate partner violence through community-based relationship education. She also has a private practice in which she specializes in couples and families. Dr. Rhoades received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Denver in 2007.

Populations: Couples and families, pregnant and postpartum women, adolescents, economically disadvantaged.

ongoing projects

Prenatal Hospital-based healthy Relationship Education: MotherWise

MotherWise is the first program in metro-Denver dedicated to helping women build practical life and relationship skills that empower them and their families to thrive during pregnancy and just after a baby is born. Research shows that this time is associated with heightened risk for violence, relationship problems, family instability, and mood disorders. MotherWise addresses these challenges. Our six-week program uses an evidence-based, widely-used curriculum called Within My Reach that was developed by DU professors Drs. Galena Rhoades and Scott Stanley. The curriculum is delivered in group-based workshops of 6 to 12 women and covers ways to communicate effectively in close relationships, solve problems and manage conflict in families, and exit unhealthy relationships safely. The workshops also include information about self-care and caring for and connecting with a newborn. In addition to the workshops, women receive one-on-one case management and coaching to apply the curriculum to their own lives and to connect them with other community resources (e.g., food assistance, housing, and employment). Workshops for her and her partner to attend together are also offered. MotherWise provides meals during workshops, onsite child care, and free transportation (via Uber) to support program participation. All services are available in English and Spanish.

MotherWise was selected to be part of the federal evaluation of the grant program under which it was funded (Administration for Children, grant #90FM0062). In collaboration with Mathematica Policy Research, a randomized controlled trial is underway comparing those assigned to the program to a no-services control group on birth outcomes, perinatal mental health, relationship quality, and family stability.

For more information, contact Dr. Galena Rhoades (Project Director) at or our program at or 720-504-4624.