HISTORY: FOCCUS, Inc. USA

FOCCUS, Inc. USA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building, promoting and enhancing healthy relationships by offering resources and training that "Facilitate Open, Caring Communication, Understanding and Study." FOCCUS, Inc. USA offers materials that are research-based, affordable, and user-friendly for both professionals and trained lay volunteers.

FOCCUS Inc. USA, an apostolate of the Archdiocese of Omaha Center for Family Life Formation, was founded on the principal that good, strong, open couple communication is the key to a successful marriage. It provides resources and support for organizations and individuals who guide couples through marriage formation and who offer ongoing marriage enrichment and support. The programs and materials offered by FOCCUS Inc. USA are based in the Roman Catholic Faith and are available in a variety of non-denominational formats.

Beginnings

FOCCUS Inc. USA began with the groundbreaking marriage preparation tool. The FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding & Study) Pre-Marriage Inventory was developed in 1985 by three marriage and family therapists with the following goals in mind:

  • Provide an affordable and user-friendly inventory
  • Utilized by lay individuals and professionals
  • Help to prepare couples for marriage
  • Emphasize a facilitation process rather than counseling
  • Address issues important for engaged couples to discuss and understand
  • Base the inventory on current research and consultation with experts in the field
  • Continually update the inventory to address developing issues such as couples with children, interfaith couples, second marriages and cohabitation

In 1988, based on feedback from facilitators and couples, the REFOCCUS (Relationship Enrichment Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding & Study) Marriage Enrichment Inventory was introduced. It is an instrument used by married couples who want a tool to help them study, understand and communicate about their relationship. As its use has grown, this inventory has been used by marriage educators and ministry leaders as a marriage enrichment in a group setting. Since growth and change are ongoing within marriage, REFOCCUS was designed to be used by a couple multiple times throughout their marriage. REFOCCUS invites a couple to acknowledge and examine the processes that they have know and helps them communicate about the process of growth/change each is experiencing.

Research

The FOCCUS Inventory first created by a team of therapists was further developed by SRI Research Center (Lincoln, NE)/(The Gallup Organization (omaha, NE). SRI/Gallup conducted all psychometric tests on the FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory instrument in 1986, 1997, 2000 and 2008.

In 1995, a private copyright firm was retained to oversee the development of the FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory as an independent work. The copyright lawyers required verification that all content for the inventory came from "the body of common knowledge" and not from any previous instrument; the work of SRI/Gallup with pilot couples to determine reliability and validity was verified, as was the independent work on the FOCCUS Couple Report by the design specialists at the Creighton University Computer Center.

In 2008, research was conducted evaluating the response of more than 80,000 couples who took the FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory. Results showed that the inventory continues to assess important dimensions of couple relationships and communication.

In 2013, we further researched the effectiveness of the FOCCUS inventory in the context of current, developing issues that needed to be addressed. This research resulted in the release of the Fourth Edition of the FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory which a pilot study revealed to be highly effective. In 2014 a revised REFOCCUS Facilitator manual was released with new sections on ministry marriages and empty-nest couples. Additional sections for REFOCCUS will be released as they are developed.

Impact

Since 1985, over one million couples have taken the FOCCUS Pre-Marriage and REFOCCUS Marriage Enrichment inventories. FOCCUS Inc. USA programs are used throughout the United States and in over 30 countries by over 8000 organizations.