The nonprofit PAIRS Foundation will offer a series of free 90-minute online classes this month to help returning combat veterans and family members impacted by PTSD. “Early intervention through effective education and skills training is critical for combat veterans and family members,” said Seth Eisenberg, President and CEO of PAIRS Foundation.
An estimated one in five U.S. veterans returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan is reported to have symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Eisenberg said. Symptoms include flashbacks and nightmares that may cause memory and attention problems, anxiety, irritability, depression, insomnia, isolation and withdrawal. PTSD also impacts many others; an estimated quarter of a million Americans will develop PTSD at some point in their lives after a terrifying experience, from car accidents to hurricanes, abuse, rape and other traumatic events.
Eisenberg delivered a plenary address at the “Spiritual Trauma of War” conference sponsored by the Veterans Administration in Chicago this month and a workshop for VA professionals on educational approaches to help couples impacted by combat deployment improve communication, emotional understanding, and strengthen marriages.
PAIRS Foundation is actively collaborating with the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center and other military and VA facilities nationwide to help active duty, reserve, guard, veterans and family members impacted by combat deployment.
“We’re honored that our collaboration with the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center was recently selected as a ‘Best Practice’ by the Veterans Administration,” Eisenberg said.
Chaplain Ron Craddock, Chief of Chaplain Services at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, said the program is making a difference. “PAIRS is changing the lives of returning combat veterans and their spouses,” he said.
“Combat deployment can significantly impact couple relationships,” said Eisenberg. “The added impact of PTSD and TBI on many returning veterans requires urgent attention.”
Eisenberg cited research conducted on a pilot group at Charlie Norwood that showed a 25 percent increase in the number of couples experiencing marital distress following deployment. “Early, effective intervention is needed to reduce the impact on these couples and their children,” Eisenberg said, “Curriculum-based educational programs founded on emotional literacy can make an immediate difference for these soldiers and their families,” Eisenberg said.
“Following a weekend PAIRS retreat for returning combat veterans and spouses,” Eisenberg said, “the percentage of couples able to effectively communicate with each other increased from 26 to 79 percent.”
Laurie Ott of the CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project in Augusta, GA was one of the program sponsors. “PAIRS is exactly what we were looking for in terms of real relationship skills for combat-returned and wounded warriors and their spouses,” she said. “Our survey before and after PAIRS shows a profound impact on both couples’ perception of their relationship and hope for the future … helping our heroes and their families reconnect after combat, and giving them the skills to improve their relationships and communication.”
PAIRS on the Code Red! radio show talking about our upcoming free classes to help Combat Veterans Impacted by PTSD: http://bit.ly/4jMvoR
What is PAIRS?
Intimacy is critical to the process of developing and sustaining close relationships, now a major concern in our culture. Modernization has shifted the primary function of marriage from providing security, stability, and raising children to developing a lifetime of love and intimacy. In previous generations successful marriages depended upon duty and role competence. Modern marriages require greater interpersonal competence as well as equality between partners. Relationships are sought that not only create stable families but also provide partners with a lifetime of love and companionship.
The PAIRS (Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills) programs, developed by Lori H. Gordon, Ph.D., provide a comprehensive system to enhance self-knowledge and to develop the ability to sustain pleasurable intimate relationships. Gordon's approach integrates a wide range of theories and methods from psychology, education and psychotherapy and presents them in an educational format. PAIRS acts to bridge therapy, marital enrichment, and marriage and family development.
Programs: Courses and Workshops
PAIRS offers programs to the public led by PAIRS Trained Professionals (licensed health care professionals), and PAIRS Instructors (certified clergy and educators), trained under the auspices and supervision of Gordon and the PAIRS Foundation, the organization that officially oversees PAIRS programs, products and licensing worldwide. There are PTPs and facilitators around the world. Check “Finding an Educator” to find one near you or near one you love who may need PAIRS.
PAIRS is effective in all populations for which it has been adapted. PAIRS has relationship skills training programs for children and youth, PAIRS for PEERS, that are taught in schools, churches and agencies. PAIRS has programs for the Military, for use by chaplains and family service workers. PAIRS has faith-based programs for the Jewish, Catholic, and Christian church communities. PAIRS is currently developing programs and program delivery systems for disadvantaged youth, unmarried families, single parents, domestic violence, prison parolees, and related groups who can benefit from relationship skills training. PAIRS provides a vital ingredient to build stable marriages and healthy families with more hopeful futures for children. These programs for special groups will be taught by local agency workers and by specially trained community teachers and mentors. Research on PAIRS has demonstrated that PAIRS works for all groups under all circumstances evaluated. PAIRS is a modern technology adapted to our rapidly changing society in behalf of creating a saner, safer more loving world.
What you will learn in PAIRS
Sustaining a pleasurable intimate relationship does not work by magic. It depends upon a set of skills and understanding that can be learned. We learned most of what we know about intimate relationships through our early experiences in our families. Our personal history has a great deal of influence on what happens in our current relationships - on our behavior, our feelings, our expectations. We can change these influences if we become aware of them and wish to. It is well worthwhile to sort through what we inherited, keeping what fits for today and changing what does not.
PAIRS Competencies are specific skills that you will learn from PAIRS. These competencies focus in three areas: 1) emotional literacy; 2) conjoint partner skills for building and maintaining intimacy; and 3) practical knowledge, strategies and attitudes for sustaining positive marriage and family life. You may click on the above links to see a listing of the skills taught in PAIRS.
The Goal of PAIRS is a relationship that both partners can live with joyfully. For this to happen, each partner must become able to identify his or her own feelings and needs, and learn to communicate them in such a way that they can get met. This means communicating one's needs and desires without making the other partner feel resentful, smothered, burdened, manipulated, or inadequate. Easily and fully meeting each others' needs is the foundation of intimacy, fulfillment, and happiness.
PAIRS teaches specific easily learnable tools for successful communication such as confiding, complaining, and clarifying and for effective problems solving such as managing anger, expressing anger safely, fighting fairly for change and eliminating dirty fighting. PAIRS also guides the vast deepening of self-knowledge and develops emotional literacy. PAIRS addresses pleasure and satisfaction by teaching skills to enhance bonding, sensuality and sexuality in marriage. PAIRS teaches a profound but simple model, the Relationship Roadmap, to understand relationship success and to understand relationship mishaps and know what to do about them. PAIRS teaches over 60 skills that, after PAIRS, become the participants' PAIRS Tool Box for ongoing relationship maintenance.