College of Education and Human Development

Family Social Science

David Olson



Ph.D., Penn State University
B.A. St. Olaf College

Areas of Interest

Premarital and Marital Counseling (PREPARE-ENRICH)
Circumplex Model and Family Assessment (FACES IV)
Couple education and enrichment (Couple Checkup)

Research & Discovery

He developed the Prepare-Enrich program, which is used nationally by over 100,000 counselors and clergy. Over four million couples have taken the program.  There are PREPARE/ENRICH offices in 15 other countries and the program has been translated into eight other languages.

The Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems is one of the most popular and scientifically tested models for understanding and treating couples and families. Over 1,000 studies have been done using this model and the family assessment tool called FACES, now with FACES IV.

Couple education and enrichment (Couple Checkup)

Honors & Awards

Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment (ACME) - Mace Medal

American Psychological Association (APA)

American Association for Marital & Family Therapy (AAMFT)

American Family Therapy Association (AAFTA)

American Counseling Association (ACA)

University of Minnesota—Legacy Award & Excellence in Research

Penn State Distinguished Alumni Award

Smart Marriages Impact Award

St. Olaf Distinguished Alumni Award


Elected Positions:

Fellow, American Psychological Association (APA)

Fellow, American Association of Marital and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

President, National Council on Family Relations (NCFR)

President,Midwest Association of Marital and Family Therapists  (UMAMFT).


Publicity and Outreach:

Olson delivered the Family Social Science Cornerstone Lecture

He has appeared on a variety of talk shows including NBC Today Show (several times), CBS Morning Show (several times) and ABC Good Morning America and the Oprah Show.


  1. Olson, David H. (2019). Marriage and Families: Intimacy, Diversity, and Strengths (9th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

  2. Deal, Ron L., & Olson, David H. (2010). Remarriage Checkup, The: Tools to Help Your Marriage Last a Lifetime. Ada, MI: Bethany House.

  3. Olson, David H., Olson-Sigg, Amy, & Larson, Peter J. (2008). Couple Checkup: Find Your Relationship Strengths. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing.

  4. Olson, David H., & Olson, Amy K. (2000). Empowering Couples: Building on Your Strengths. Minneapolis, MN: Life Innovations Inc.

  5. Olson, David H., Defrain, John, & Olson, Amy K. (1999). Building Relationships: Developing Skills for Life. Minneapolis, MN: Live Innovations, Inc.