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Certified MARRIAGESTRONG & RELATESTRONG Leaders around the country

Use the map to locate MarriageStrong leaders in your region!

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A group is a psychoeducational small group that most commonly meets weekly for an hour and a half over nine weeks. A trained professional leads the participants through sessions focused on:

  • constructive conflict resolution
  • connecting past experiences to the present relationship
  • personality differences
  • spiritual gifting
  • learning healthy boundaries

South Midwest



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Don and LouAnna Arterburn live in Waco, Texas with their three children Isaac, Andi, and Zane. Don completed his PhD at Texas Tech and is a Licensed Marrige and Family Therapist and Supervisor. He is also a Certified Multiple Addictions Therapist and is the Addictive Behavior Specialist at Baylor University. Don works with couples and addiction issues in his private practice. LouAnna completed her Masters at Baylor and is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Supervisor. She works with children, teenagers, and women in her private practice as well as working with couples. They are leading groups for couples in ministry hoping to strengthen marriages and encourage ministries.


Dallas, Texas
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Gary Barnes is currently Professor of Biblical Counseling at Dallas Theological Seminary and also maintains a marriage and family private practice. He is an ordained minister, a licensed psychologist, and a certified sex therapist, specializing in marriage and family research, counseling, and training. His wife Cathy is a retired teacher and is now a full time "Grammy." Gary and Cathy have two sons, two daughters, two daughters-in-law, a son-in-law and almost 6 grandchildren.


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Cathy Burns, LPC #60261, holds a MA in Professional Counseling and a BS in Heath Care Science with experience as a Physician’s Assistant. She has also completed a residency program as a spiritual director through the Institute of Christian Spirituality. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor working with individuals, couples, families, and groups. She is certified in premarital work (PREPARE/ENRICH), anger resolution and counseling supervision. Cathy has experience in intensive marital therapy with married or engaged ministry couples. Her special therapeutic interests include chronic illness support, spiritual struggles, marital issues, eating disorders, sexual abuse, women’s issues and young adult life transitions. In her private practice she works to enhance emotional, physical and spiritual health. Cathy has led MarriageStrong groups at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. She is currently developing a model to work with staff in various ministry organizations in the state of Texas. Cathy is married and has three married children with a growing number of grandchildren.


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Cara Flanders, LPC-S #12014/LMFT #201133, currently serves as one of the clinical supervisors for students completing their internships at Abilene Christian University (ACU) in their MFT program. She is a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and is both a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Texas. Additionally, Cara is a counselor in the University Counseling Center at Abilene Christian University, where she offers therapy to students, faculty, and staff. Cara specializes in family and relationship issues, depression, eating disorders, cross-cultural adjustment and missionary care. She and her husband were missionaries for several years in Thailand, and as a result, she has extensive experience providing therapy in non-Western contexts. Currently Cara is leading MarriageStrong groups at ACU in Abilene, Texas. Cara is married to Chris, who is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Theology at ACU, and they have two children.

Presentations & Trainings

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Valerie Johnson, MA

Christian Association For Psychological Studies

Annual Conference, Portland Oregon

Sharon Hargrave, MA; Valerie Johnson, MA; Judith Cho, MS

Introduction to the MarriageStrong Program and its Cultural Applications:

Studies on marital enrichment programs have identified the positive impact of psycho-educational programs on relationships. However, few studies have assessed a program tailored to clergy spouses who face unique relational stressors. This study examined clergy and seminary couple reactions to marital satisfaction, trustworthiness and positive feelings toward spouse, before and after participation in the MarriageStrong program, using the Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scale (RDAS), the Relational Ethics Scale (RES) and the Positive Feelings Questionnaire (PFQ). Results indicated significant increases in trustworthiness and positive feelings toward spouse following participation in the MarriageStrong program. Significant increases in marital satisfaction were not demonstrated. Probable explanations for findings and implications for the program are discussed.

(note: the following documents refer to MarriageStrong by its former name, Strong Marriages Successful Ministries.)

We are excited to announce

a name change for MarriageStrong and RelateStrong.

Same programs, new names...

Please visit our new site at the Boone Center for the Family at Pepperdine University