The Mission of PAIRS is to
teach those attitudes, emotional understandings and
behaviors that nurture and sustain healthy relationships
and to make this knowledge broadly available on behalf
of a safer, saner, more loving world.
Bonding, the unique combination of emotional openness and physical closeness with another human being, is a biological-need that impacts our physical, mental and emotional well-being through every stage of life.
While most of us are trained through years of education and life experiences to meet other biological needs such as air, food, water and shelter, much of what we learned from our own early family, educational, and professional experiences can actually interfere with our ability to get our needs for bonding met and to meet the bonding needs of those with whom we share our lives. The deprivation of bonding is perhaps the single greatest preventable contributor to illness, depression, premature death, relationship breakdown, and family fragmentation that directly leads to many of our most urgent national challenges.
That concept is central to the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation’s quarter century experience working with couples, singles and young people from all backgrounds and in every stage of relationship.
PAIRS training for the public teaches evidence-based, scientifically-validated skills for creating and sustaining relationships that are an ongoing source of love, pleasure, happiness and fulfillment for both partners, based on the centrality of bonding and a unique understanding of the logic of love and emotions. The goal of every PAIRS exercise and experience is to increase our capacity to create and sustain relationships in which we are able to consistently get our own needs for bonding met and meet the bonding needs of those with whom we choose to share our lives.
Experiential learning in PAIRS’ brief programs, such as the nine-hour, award-winning PAIRS Essentials program, delivers practical, immediately usable skills for improving interpersonal communication, understanding emotions in ourselves and others, navigating conflict and differences on behalf of the goals and dreams we most cherish, uncovering hidden expectations and assumptions that can otherwise sabotage close relationships, and learning to identify “emotional allergies” that may trigger strong reactions where we can unconsciously expect people in our lives today to make up for hurts, disappointments and other painful events from our past.
While PAIRS has been credited with saving thousands of marriages headed for divorce from the early eighties through the present, the focus of PAIRS is on human relationships. In many cases, those are relationships between spouses, domestic partners, parents and children (youth or adult), as well as co-workers and team members whose collaboration within visionary enterprises directly impacts client services and organizational success.
The skills participants learn in PAIRS will make a difference in any close relationship, including our relationships with ourselves as exercises offer the opportunity to better know and understand how the unique events of our lives impact feelings about ourselves and relationships with others.
PAIRS itself is not therapy or counseling, although many mental health professionals have said integrating PAIRS skills into their professional work has been as valuable, if not more, then anything they learned through years of academic studies.
Classes are offered by many of the more then 2,000 professionals who have been trained by PAIRS Foundation across the globe. Mental health professionals trained by PAIRS also offer personal skills training in private sessions. A directory of PAIRS trained professionals can be found at consumer.pairs.com.
The concept of skills training for relationships that evolved into the range of PAIRS programs was originally created by Lori Heyman Gordon, a Northern Virginia marriage and family
therapist whose early career included extensive work
with adolescents in residential treatment centers. Mrs. Gordon recognized that one of the most important contributions psychologists, therapists, counselors and educators could
make to children was to help their own parents’
relationships. In 1975, as a faculty member at American
University’s School of Counseling in Washington, D.C.,
Mrs. Gordon developed the concept of an educational approach
to saving marriages into semester long
course to help graduate students best serve
their future clients. The course integrated, adapted and wove together ground-breaking work from pathfinders such as Virginia Satir, Daniel Casriel, George Bach and many others.
From the beginning, the results
were both remarkable and unambiguous. Soon after, Mrs. Gordon
brought the course on the "Practical Application of
Intimate Relationship Skills," known by the acronym
“PAIRS,” to private practice clients struggling in their
own marriages. Early assumptions about the potential for couples to achieve enduring breakthroughs through skills training in communication, emotional understanding, constructive conflict resolution, sensuality and sexuality, and other areas vital to healthy, love relationships were quickly and
repeatedly validated; knowledge and relationship skills
delivered through curriculum-based experiences became
a powerful model for saving marriages.
PAIRS Foundation was established as a non-stock, not-for-profit in Northern Virginia in 1983 and relocated to South Florida in 2000. The PAIRS curriculum, including programs for the public, proprietary training systems for professionals, and a broad range of adaptations and abbreviations, are owned exclusively by the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt charity. PAIRS Foundation also oversees all professional training, licensing, and certification programs worldwide.
among the pre-eminent, evidence-based relationship and marriage education programs in the
world, having evolved into a comprehensive
model that attends to ethics, program
evaluation, rigorous quality management, and ongoing training for leaders. Educators, counselors, health care professionals, clergy and lay leaders nationwide are regularly invited to partner with PAIRS Foundation to deliver programs that strengthen marriages, families and improve outcomes for children in their communities.
Lori Heyman Gordon (1929 - )
Marriage and Family Therapist Lori Gordon, together with her late husband, Rabbi Morris Gordon, established the PAIRS Foundation in 1983
in Falls Church, VA as a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity chartered to develop programs for the
prevention of marital and family breakdown.
Prior to founding PAIRS, Mrs. Gordon served as a faculty member
of the American University School of Counseling
Education in Washington, D.C. She received her undergraduate degree at Cornell University and Masters in Social Work from Catholic University.
Mrs. Gordon served as President of PAIRS from its founding through June 2008.
Mrs. Gordon was a
Plenary presenter at the First Annual Coalition for
Marriage, Family and Couples Education Smart Marriages
Conference in 1997 in Washington, DC. and has presented
at its Annual Conference since then. In 2002 she was
honored with their major Impact Award for having
pioneered the PAIRS program. The Award reads:
appreciation of your intrepid pioneering work in
creating the PAIRS program and for your visionary
leadership in blazing a path for so many to follow."
She continues to serve on
the coalition Advisory Board.
primary life goal has been to bring the benefits of relationship
education, emotional literacy, and healthy marital and
family relationships to as broad a population as
possible through encouraging and training excellent
leaders and educators along with teaching selected
presentations to the public. Her interviews and articles in the national media, including multiple appearances on the NBC Today Show, and feature stories in dozens of leading newspapers and magazines, helped promote broad public awareness for the field of relationship skills training and the potential impact on marriages, families, and children.
Seth Eisenberg is President/CEO of PAIRS Foundation and a leading national trainer in the field of marriage and relationship education. From 2006-2011, Mr. Eisenberg served as Project Director of the federally-funded PAIRS Relationship Skills for Strong South Florida Families grant project, which received $5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.
Since first joining PAIRS in 1995, Mr. Eisenberg has trained more than 1,000 instructors nationwide. Eisenberg has played a key role developing and piloting intensive multi-lingual educational programs for diverse communities, including low-literacy, economically distressed, and others facing unique relationship transitions, such as returning from combat deployment, adoptive couples, and reentry to the community after incarceration. He has delivered classes to thousands of participants, from high school students to couples and singles in all stages of relationship, and continues to spearheading PAIRS efforts to develop and cost-effectively deliver highly effective, research-validated relationship skills programs through new technologies, including Smartphone applications and online classes.
Mr. Eisenberg is co-author of PAIRS Essentials (2008), a research-driven skills building curriculum that includes innovative tools and technology to enhance communication, emotional understanding and expression; deepen empathy, bonding, and compassion; and expand options for navigating conflict; co-author of TEAMS (2000), an educational program designed to produce breakthroughs in workplace productivity, collaboration, retention and similar measures in visionary enterprises; a contributing author of Building Intimate Relationships (2001); and senior contributor in a range of other relationship building programs, including: PAIRS For Life (2009), PAIRS for PEERS (2008), and For Our Future, For Our Family (2007).
Prior to joining PAIRS, Mr. Eisenberg served as executive director of a New York-based national Jewish organization, working closely with the highest levels of government both in the U.S. and Israel. He is a past national president of Junior Achievement, a nationwide economic education program serving hundreds of thousands of high school students, and former vice president of USTrading Corporation. He has also worked extensively as a journalist, including serving as editor of COMMUNITY newspaper, reporter covering Capitol Hill for the nationally-syndicated Washington Radio and Press Service, and authored over 200 articles.
As an active member of the South Florida community, Mr. Eisenberg has served on the Board of the YMCA, chaired the annual Partners with Youth Scholarship and Heroes of the Red Cross campaigns, coached youth athletics, and advised various public and private enterprises.
Eisenberg's work and interests have been widely featured in the media, including interviews, appearances, articles and letters in: New York Times, Jerusalem Post, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald, Boston Herald, Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, Charleston Gazette, San Diego Union-Tribune, Omaha World-Herald, Associated Press, Orlando Sentinel, Toronto Star, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Tampa Tribune, Times of London, Haaretz, ABC-TV, NBC-TV, MSNBC and many others.
Eisenberg, his wife, and three sons live in North Miami Beach, Florida. His hobbies include tennis, chess, photography, sports, and technology.
pioneer in family therapy, Virginia Satir was
internationally acclaimed as a therapist, lecturer,
trainer, and author. After helping start the prestigious
Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, she
continued developing her approach to counseling
individuals and families. She was perhaps best known for
her work in self-esteem. She was known for her special warmth and her remarkable
insight into human communication and self-esteem. Her
work influenced many other theorists, writers, leaders,
and therapists throughout the world. Her best-selling
work, The New Peoplemaking (revised shortly before her
death) is probably the clearest and most inclusive
description of family life available. And the third
edition of her Conjoint Family Therapy remains a classic
in the field of family dynamics. Virginia served as founding chairperson of PAIRS.
Satir wrote the introduction to the original PAIRS Relationship Mastery Program Curriculum Guide, including:
"In a world where equality between human beings is generally not practiced and maybe not known, the material contained in PAIRS is a truly significant, pioneering effort."
Rabbi Morris Gordon (1914 - 2005)
Rabbi Morris Gordon, co-creator of PAIRS, died in March 2005. His
life story, Dare to Be: Autobiography of Rabbi Morris
Gordon, was published posthumously. The following
excerpt was written about Rabbi Gordon by Seth Eisenberg
the year before his death.
At 89, Rabbi
Morris Gordon still loves to dance. Although at times he
struggles to hear, he never fails to move effortlessly
to a rhythm most others don't begin to detect. A rhythm
that led Dr. Gordon to brave enemy fire on China's Burma
Road for which he received the American Bronze Star and
Chinese Medal of Honor . to counsel, console and inspire
troops of all persuasions at home and in distant lands .
to build houses of worship and help heal homes void of
love for thousands. It was that rhythm that brought him
to lead Capitol Hill services at the inauguration of
President John F. Kennedy. And it was that rhythm that
led him to his seat atop the steps of the Lincoln
Memorial on a warm August afternoon in 1963 when a
brilliant 34 year-old preacher from Montgomery, Alabama
stood just a few yards away and moved a nation with four
words that continue to inspire our world: I have a
graduated as Rabbi with Distinction from the Jewish
Theological Seminary of America where he was later
awarded a doctorate. He served as Chaplain in the United
States Air Force in World War II in the famed Flying
Tigers unit under the command of General Claire
Chennault. During his perilous journey on the
precipitous Burma Road, Chaplain Gordon was under
constant enemy sniper fire. In her presentation of the
Chinese Medal of Honor, Madame Chang Kai Chek personally
acknowledged Rabbi Gordon for his bravery, dedication
history has been recorded by the Jewish War Veterans
Museum and, under the supervision of director Steven
Spielberg, the United States Holocaust Museum, both in
Washington, D.C., to assure his oral testimony and
significant tangible physical artifacts are preserved
for generations to come.
One of Rabbi
Gordon's most cherished memories from his service during
World War II is the personal role he played organizing a
ship and safe passage for 1,000 refugee children to
travel from Shanghai to Israel. Decades later, long
after these youngsters grew to adulthood, he crossed
paths with some of them working on a road building
project in Israel's magnificent Negev desert. These
former refugees, now parents themselves, greeted
Chaplain Gordon with gratitude and enthusiasm that left
him forever touched by the opportunity he had been
blessed with to impact their lives.
Gordon's profound spiritual consciousness and
unstoppable personal spirit has shaped a life of
contribution and connection, leading him to initiate
innovative approaches to inspire and empower youth
through the United Synagogue Youth program, USY, he
helped create while serving as Rabbi at Temple Adath
Yeshurun in Minneapolis, Minnesota. USY went on to
become a worldwide movement that has helped connect
hundreds of thousand of Jewish teenagers to their own
spiritual roots and inspired countless acts of
compassion and charity.
the Minneapolis community, Rabbi Gordon developed a
close friendship with the community's young mayor,
Hubert H. Humphrey. Mayor Humphrey went on to serve as a
United States Senator, and in 1964, vice president of
the United States in the Administration of President
Lyndon Johnson. Three years earlier, in January 1961, it
was Senator Humphrey who personally asked Rabbi Gordon
to lead the invocation before a joint session of
Congress for the occasion of John F. Kennedy's
presidential inauguration. Until his death in 1978,
Senator Humphrey remained one of Rabbi Gordon's most
followed Senator Humphrey to Washington, Rabbi Gordon
went on to become one of the community's most
influential religious leaders, well known for his work
to foster cooperation and understanding between
Christians and Jews, provide leadership for other
rabbis, and his unwavering commitment to help families
establish houses of prayer convenient to the
neighborhoods in which they lived and raised their
children. Rabbi Gordon personally oversaw the founding
of eight congregations in the Washington metropolitan
area and closely assisted with six others. The Har
Shalom Congregation in Potomac, Maryland honored him by
naming their sanctuary the Rabbi Morris Gordon
Sanctuary, an extraordinary honor never before bestowed
on a living rabbi by any synagogue in the Washington
is past President of the Rabbinical Assembly of Greater
Washington, representative to the Interfaith Council,
and former Chairman of Education of the Washington Board
of Rabbis. As their delegate, he was seated on the
platform at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.,
next to entertainer Harry Belafonte, when Reverend
Martin Luther King, Jr. electrified generations with his
retains his love for literature and music, is a much
sought after speaker on topics ranging from Albert
Einstein's personal spirituality to Jewish mysticism. He
is fluent in classical Hebrew and is an esteemed
interpreter of biblical literature.
Rabbi Gordon's fervent passion has been to help couples
and children of all backgrounds, cultures and religions.
That year he and his wife -- pioneering author,
therapist and lecturer, Dr. Lori Gordon -- established
the non-profit PAIRS Foundation to teach relationship
skills. Since then, the Gordon's PAIRS program has
touched countless lives through a network of more than
1,000 trained professionals and lay leaders who share
their innovative emotional development, communications
and conflict resolution techniques in 75 communities
across America and 15 nations. Between them, Rabbi
Gordon and his wife have authored or co-authored more
than a dozen books and training manuals promoting
healthy, happy relationships.
also has a dream. His dream is for a world in which
every youngster learns knowledge and skills for
successful relationships as a fourth "R" to the
traditional curriculum of reading, writing and
arithmetic. Rabbi Gordon believes that with these
understandings and skills, the foundation of our world -
our homes and families - will be stronger and our planet
will be safer, saner and more loving. For the past 20
years, he has invited every person he's met to share in
Dan Casriel's unique contributions to PAIRS include significant expansion on the concept of the human need for bonding, defined as emotional openness and physical closeness as continuing throughout life, as a source of ease, pleasure, self worth and creativity, as opposed to disease, distress and distrust that often underpin the inability for closeness needs to be met. Included in these concepts are that one needn't be perfect to be loved. One can make mistakes and learn from them. The loneliness that is endemic in our culture and often found in distressed relationships can many times be traced to an inability to meet through human connection the need for bonding. The notion that this need goes on throughout life can be verified not only in infants who are not nurtured and often die, but in nursing homes for the aged where those who have no human contact often pass on far sooner that others who have sources of connection and bonding with others in their lives, sometimes even with pets who are often brought into nursing homes as 'therapy pets' to provide human physical and emotional contact. Casriel's unique presentations on the logic of love and emotion as related to adult bonding needs that can be separate from sexual needs -- although can be added to and perhaps more enduring -- are woven throughout PAIRS.
Click here for a current PAIRS Programs and Partnerships brochure.