Love Thinks Army

Dr. John Van Epp

John Van Epp, Ph.D. is Founder/President of Love Thinks, LLC . Van Epp has taught the Love Thinks evidence-based courses to more than a million worldwide, and used by all branches of the military, non-profit and community organizations, high schools and universities, social agencies, juvenile and correctional facilities, churches and faith-based organizations, and in all fifty states, ten countries and by more than 10,000 instructors certified by Dr. Van Epp. Published research in peer-reviewed journals have validated these courses and are summarized in the textbook, Evidence-based Approaches to Relationship & Marriage Education(2016).

Van Epp has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, a M.A. in Pastoral Psychology & Counseling, a M.A. in History, and a B.S. in Pastoral and Biblical Studies. 

Van Epp and his Love Thinks programs were awarded the Smart Marriage Impact Award (2008), the National Association of Relationship and Marriage Education Impact Award (2018), and have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time Magazine, Psychology Today, Newsweek; and on the CBS Early Show, Good Morning America, Fox News, and Focus on the Family.

Army Strong Bonds

Van Epp has been contracted by the U.S. Army Chaplaincy, Family Readiness, Family Advocacy, and Army training institutions for the past twenty years to provide training and certification in courses he developed around his Relationship Attachment Model (RAM) for building and sustaining healthy relationships, relationship counseling, and military readiness; and to teach in the Army Chaplain  Schoolhouse in both CH-BOLC and C4 for over ten years; and to contract as  a SME  in resilience, religion  and  psychology at the Uniformed Services University in the Suicidality Department.

Love Thinks evidence-based relationship courses for singlescouples and families have been taught by Army Chaplains for over 15 years in the Strong Bonds program, with the Love Thinks course for singles being included in the initial roll-out of the Building Strong and Ready Families. 

Ready + Resilient for the Fight Program Outcomes

More than 500 Army and Special Forces Chaplains have been certified to train the Love Thinks course,Ready and Resilient for the Fight* which teaches skills that enhance readiness and resilience through moral development in three major domains: self (e.g. mindfulness and emotional-regulation), circumstances (e.g. meaning-making and reframing), and others (e.g. support networks and healthy coping skills).

Data collected on six pilots led by Chaplains training enlisted, NCO’s and officers found:

  • 85%+ stated that they learned skills taught in this program that will help them better deal with challenging situations.

  • 85%+ stated that they learned skills that will increase their resilience.

  • 95%+ stated that the program handled the “sensitive” nature of religion, faith, and spirituality in a non-offensive manner.

  • 90% stated that they believe this course should be taught to others in the military.

Data also found statistically significant improvements with pre-post measures on the following:

  • I know how to find meaning in difficult and challenging life circumstances by using my spiritual values and beliefs.
  • I intend on handling my emotional reactions consistent with my spiritual values and beliefs.
  • I am motivated to practice my spiritual values and beliefs.
  • I know who I can turn to for support when I am down or very upset.

Data collected from two Special Forces Chaplain trainings found 100% agreement in the following:

  • I believe this course will help OTHERS increase their understanding of how to develop their spirituality. 
  • I believe the skills taught in this program will help OTHERS become more resilient. 
  • I believe the skills taught in this program will help OTHERS better deal with challenging situations.

*adapted from the Love Thinks Program, Ultimate Spiritual Resilience & Relationships

Ready + Resilient for the Fight Program Overview

Managing Your Four Major Relationships of Resilience

There are four major domains that a person manages: self, others, circumstances and spirituality (sources of meaning). Moral leadership is developed as resilient, core values/beliefs within one’s spiritual domain are integrated into the skills used to enhance self-regulation, make positive meanings of circumstances, and form/sustain healthy relationships with others. Three practical steps, 1) Be Aware; 2) Compare attitudes/actions with core values/beliefs; and 3) Repair are followed in each session to develop the proficiency of skills that determines a warrior’s resilience and readiness. 

Managing How You Relate to Your Circumstances with Resilience

Participants identify and discuss core values/beliefs and practice skills that increase resilience in handling their life circumstances—how they process life challenges, reframe perspectives, and increase mindfulness of living congruently with their core values.

Managing How You Relate to Your Self with Resilience

Participants identify and explore the core values/beliefs and their corresponding skills that help to improve how they regulate their emotions, control their impulses, calm themselves down and generate positive self-talk.

Managing How You Relate to Others with Resilience

Participants identify and explore the core values/beliefs and their corresponding skills that increase their resilience and involvement in their relationships with others. They explore their own relationship networks and the extent of support they experience and provide within those relationships, and the skills to build relationships with a sense of belonging, worth, mutuality and perseverance. 

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