Relationship Skills Training Helps Prevent Teen Pregnancies

PAIRS Foundation Logo (2010). Copyrighted Material.
PAIRS Foundation

Helping teenagers improve communication skills, emotional understanding, and healthy conflict resolution is key to reducing teen pregnancies according to a report released by the non-profit PAIRS Foundation.

In a research study involving 137 teenage mothers and expectant teenage mothers in Florida’s Miami-Dade county, PAIRS Foundation found that teaching youngsters skills for confiding, expressing emotions, and constructive conflict resolution significantly reduced factors that lead to teen childbearing.

South Florida has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the nation, with more than 6,000 children born to mothers between the ages of 15 and 19 between 2005 and 2007. Statewide, more than 25,000 babies were born to teen mothers during this period.

Dr. Shirley Johnson
Dr. Shirley Johnson, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Supervisor, speaks to students in PAIRS class for teenage mothers. Dr. Johnson said PAIRS programs have been proven to reduce teen pregnancy.

The PAIRS Foundation study involved delivering brief classes on communication skills, emotional understanding, and healthy conflict resolution to teenage girls in Miami-Dade County Public Schools over a five week period. Months later, PAIRS assessed student improvements in areas previous research has identified as critical to preventing teen pregnancies.

Results of the study indicated:

• 86% reported an improved ability to say “no” to unwanted sexual advances;

• 82% reported a greater ability to confide feelings about sexual issues with significant others;

• 77% were more likely to consider consequences of their decisions about sexual behavior;

• 63% reported increased likelihood to insist on birth control;

• 64% said their ability to talk with friends about sex improved;

• 53% said their ability to talk with parents, stepparents or guardians about sex improved.

A 2004 study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy estimated teen childbearing in Florida cost taxpayers (federal, state, and local) nearly $500 million annually, primarily as result of taxpayer costs associated with public health care, child welfare, incarceration, and lost tax revenue due to decreased earnings and spending.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama highlighted the importance of reducing teen pregnancies nationwide.

“Despite progress over the last decade, three out of every ten young women in the United States become pregnant. Teen pregnancies present a number of risks for both mother and child, including increased health problems; higher likelihood of neglect, poverty, and involvement in the criminal justice and child welfare systems; and greater obstacles in attaining education.”

The President called for a renewed commitment to “promoting parent-child communication, and investing in programs that have been proven to reduce teen pregnancy.”

PAIRS CEO Seth Eisenberg said the research results are very encouraging.

“We know that helping teens improve communication with family, friends and others is critical to reducing teen pregnancies and helping young people consider the consequences of their decisions about sex We’re very encouraged by the result of this brief program and hope to expand services to reach greater numbers of teens and their parents.”

The PAIRS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 1983 to teach skills that enhance emotional understanding, communication, and healthy conflict resolution. The Foundation has trained more than 2,000 program facilitators worldwide who deliver classes to thousands of participants each year. In 2006, PAIRS Foundation was awarded a multi-year, multi-million dollar grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families to conduct a demonstration project in South Florida to help reduce the rate of marital and family breakdown and improve outcomes for children.

PAIRS classes, ranging from nine to 120 hours, are offered regularly throughout South Florida, in many communities nationwide, and over the Internet. For more information, call (877) 724-7748, email, or visit

PAIRS Foundation Press Releases

PAIRS Foundation View All →

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.