The mission of Healthy Relationships Rochester is to help people in all stages and walks of life develop relationship intelligence. Developing loving and committed relationships is the way we meet our needs for love and connection, and the criteria most of us will use to evaluate our success in life. Successful relationships strongly contribute to our physical and mental health, enabling us to be joyful travelers on life's journey. 

Healthy Relationships Rochester is a non-profit organization located in Rochester, and serving southeastern Minnesota. We help people from diverse backgrounds address a wide spectrum of relationship issues and needs. We offer the best in relationship education and counseling. We select the best programs in relationship education available anywhere, and offer them locally in various settings and venues. We also train others to teach and facilitate these best practice programs. We empower organizations by training, supervising, and certifying their own personnel as relationship educators.

As a non-profit, our mission is to make relationship education available and affordable, and to help integrate relationship intelligence into mainstream health care. We strive to keep our fees and overhead low so that the public can afford our services. We accept donations from individuals, organizations, foundations, grants, and other sources in order to carry out our mission. These donations directly support our multi-tiered services and enable us to offer them to families, singles, couples, and organizations who cannot fully afford them. 

In addition to the growing number of best practice programs, a large body of social science research provides abundant  evidence to document the primary importance of healthy relationships, as well as the effectiveness of relationship education and counseling. In fact, developing relationship intelligence is the single most important thing we can do as a society to improve health and wellness, reduce the cost of health care, and prevent many physical and mental illnesses.

Please Contact Us for more information about how you can improve relationship intelligence in your family, marriage, friendships and organization. 

Read our Statement of Values >

Our Team

Duane Nelson - Founder, CEO and Director

Duane is the founder and one of three directors of Healthy Relationships Rochester, a new non-profit organization. His passion is helping people improve their relationships. His vision, expertise, and creativity is the driving force behind this innovative organization. Duane has been certified in some areas of relationship education for 35 years. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Minnesota, as well as a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and an approved supervisor in Minnesota for those seeking to be licensed in marriage and family therapy. Duane is also a certified pastoral counselor, the only credential that verifies the training and skills to integrate counseling and spirituality, and is a fellow in the American Association for Pastoral Counseling. Duane has worked in various areas of marriage and family therapy, adult and child mental health, and addiction treatment for 38 years. Read about Duane's Counseling Approach.

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Duane has made his home in Rochester for the last 25 years. Duane has been married for 34 years to the love of his life, Cathy. Duane and Cathy met doing music ministry, and have made music together ever since. The couple have two adult daughters and the family love to travel, ski, play games, talk, and have cookouts. Duane enjoys gardening, theatre, hiking, downhill skiing, playing guitar and congas, and hanging out with friends.

Duane is well known in the Rochester professional community as an expert in couple and marital therapy. He is a "marriage friendly therapist" who is warm, engaging, and fair minded to both parties. Duane uses humor to help bring out the best in people. He integrates educational workshops with counseling to minimize cost and maximize effectiveness. While working at Mayo Clinic, he introduced and taught communication and parenting programs, taught marriage and family therapy in the medical school, and helped write a number of educational materials for couples, parents and families. Duane has been recognized as an engaging and gifted teacher. He is also known for his outstanding ability to understand and assess couples, parents, families, addictions, and common mental health problems.

Duane holds three master’s degrees. The first is in communication theory from the University of Minnesota, with special emphasis in interpersonal communication, where his thesis was in family enabling of alcoholism. The second is in marriage and family therapy from the University of Wisconsin – Stout, where his thesis research was in parenting skills. The third is in pastoral studies from Loyola University in Chicago. 

Cathy Nelson - director

Cathy is one of three directors for Healthy Relationships Rochester. Cathy and Duane have nurtured their own marrage in many ways for 34 years. Cathy has been involved in the planning and development of Healthy Relationships Rochester from the onset and each step along the way. She is closely involved in ongoing website development, strategic planning and development, staff recruitment, financial planning, financing, and other organizational functions. Cathy is a trained couple communication instructor in Collaborative Marriage and Thriving Together, and co-facilitates these programs. Cathy has a BA in music education, an advanced certificate in music ministry, and a master's degree in pastoral studies. 

Cathy is known and loved for her sensitivity, empathy, gentle teaching style, and warm involvement in her personal and professional relationships. She is employed by Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Rochester as the music ministry coordinator. Under her leadership, Holy Spirit has become well known in the Rochester community for its outstanding music ministry.  Many of her compositions are used at Holy Spirit and elsewhere for prayer and worship.

Cathy is a highly trained, skilled and experienced retreat leader. She has delivered retreats for couples, professionals, church staffs, Franciscan groups, and others. Her music compositions are widely used for individual prayer and meditation, as well as liturgies, worship and retreats given by others in the US and Internationally. Her website makes her recordings  and written music available for purchase.

You can hear and view her music online at Cathy Nelson Music

Marie Nelson - director

Marie is one of the three non-profit directors for Healthy Relationships Rochester. She is involved in key strategic planning, instructional design, and major decisions that determine the overall direction of the organization. Marie is a professional educator who is highly respected as a personable, innovative and skilled teacher. Her students love her creativity, energy, and astute ability to stimulate their involvement and ownership of their own learning. Marie graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa in 2006 with double majors in Psychology and Spanish. She received her MS in Education from the University of Minnesota in 2007. She holds teaching licenses in Minnesota for K-12 in Spanish and English as a Second Language (ESL).

Now in her seventh year of teaching, Marie loves her work. She has been actively involved in curriculum development for five years and has implemented several highly successful new programs, including teaching literacy to immigrant Spanish speakers in their own language. She has been involved in recruitment and research, led by experts at the University of Minnesota, to improve parent involvement in their children’s education. She also assists with translating for immigrant parents and school staff. Marie is highly attuned to cultural diversity and continually updates her thinking, approach and skills in relating to students and families from a wide range of cultural and language backgrounds. As a professional educator, Marie helps Healthy Relationships Rochester fulfill its education and skill training mission.