Monthly Online Seminar

Transforming Couple Therapy Integrating ISTDP & PACT Therapies

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Facilitate rapid relationship change with your couples when you bring together components of these natural partners. Join PACT-certified, ISTDP-trained therapist Margaret Martin, LCSW, for a three-part exploration of the powerful effect of combining these two dynamic models.

Bird, Owl, Three Spotted owlet (Athene brama) in tree hollow,Bird of Thailand

Meet online three hours per month for three months.

The Objective

Discover the impact of combining core tenets from ISTDP with PACT principles and interventions. Through didactic lecture, group discussion, and session video recordings you'll enhance your ability to:

  • describe how partners' individual inner conflicts feed a couple's interpersonal conflicts
  • provide step-by-step clarification of the identified problem & therapeutic task
  • understand partners' symptoms, character structure, & capacity
  • emphasize the cost of maintaining the status quo
  • maintain a firm therapeutic stance

The Models

The shared elements of Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) and a Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy (PACT) make these two models natural partners for working with couples. Points of intersection include theoretical underpinnings, therapeutic technique, and training, application of technique and theory, and therapeutic stance. In both models, the therapist takes a direct approach, actively leverages pain to motivate change, and uses recordings of sessions for training and self-supervision. Read more about ISTDP here, here, and here. Learn more about PACT here, here, and here.


Developed for working with individuals, this model

  • identifies & challenges destructive behavior
  • attends to unconscious client communication
  • presents a framework for the moment-to-moment understanding of the system
  • articulates the intrapsychic conflicts & impact on interpersonal relationships
  • provides language and framework to address helplessness & passivity
  • emphasizes the cost of the status quo
  • provides a clear method to identify anxiety & early signs of dysregulation
  • offers techniques for client regulation & capacity building


Developed for working with challenging couples, this model

  • leverages pain to motivate change
  • challenges impediments to a secure functioning relationship
  • emphasizes the here-and-now experience in session
  • teaches partners to attune to each other
  • creates pressure for collaboration between partners

Sign up now

to improve your work with couples.

"You should definitely do this training if you want practical, immediately applicable skills delivered with warmth and humor."

- ISTDP Therapist, Austin, Texas

"Margaret is a highly skilled couples therapist who is approachable and has a deep understanding of PACT principles and theory.  She has a way of making you feel like you are part of the learning process while making difficult concepts easy to understand.  I highly recommend taking a course from Margaret."

- Jason Brand, PACT Therapist

"Margaret’s clear training objectives were supported by her focused approach in delivering the curriculum. Her training included psychoeducation, interaction with the trainees and she reinforced her learning objectives through video demonstration.  Margaret began the training with one of the best “inclusivity” consents I have encountered."

- PACT Therapist, Saratoga Springs, NY 

“Margaret is one of my most trusted colleagues. Her warmth and humor will put you immediately at ease, ready to take in what she has to offer: depth of expertise with individuals and couples and an uncanny capacity to convey what she knows in a straightforward, easily understood manner.”

- Liz Alfson, MD, PACT Therapist

"Margaret's power, as a facilitator, is in her commitment to excellence in her own practice. Her perpetual searching for impactful modalities, her rigorous approach to client outcomes, and her earnest examination of her own practice all impact her facilitation. In her trainings, I've been supported to explore my own skills, ideas and questions, but I've also taken away so much from both Margaret's rich toolkit and the space she provides for other practitioners to share their expertise."

- Jess C., PACT Therapist

"Margaret is wonderful. She thoughtfully integrates theory with real life experience -- and a dash of humor... She's extremely knowledgeable in clinical concerns related to trauma and the impact in couples work. She offers a wide array of perspectives that support the spirit of PACT."

- PACT Therapist, Austin, Texas

“In her trainings, I've been supported to explore my own skills, ideas and questions, but I've also taken away so much from both Margaret's rich toolkit and the space she provides for other practitioners to share their expertise."

- PACT Therapist, SLC, Utah

“Margaret shares years of experience using deliberate practice and PACT couples therapy. She is a natural at couples skills and the use of video feedback and helped me overcome the initial video recording jitters. It has helped my quality of work tremendously.”

- PACT Therapist, Austin, Texas

“Margaret knows her stuff! She is a seasoned, extremely talented, and highly trained clinician, and also a skilled, caring teacher. She helps people find their growth edges in a way that is direct while also gentle and compassionate.”

- ISTDP Therapist, Austin, Texas

The Details

This training meets for three hours one Friday a month for three months (May 12, June 9, & July 14 2:00-5:00 p.m. Central Time). Non-clinical portions of sessions will be recorded for later viewing in case of absence. Instruction methods include didactic lectures, presentation of session recordings, and group discussions. The fee is $345, paid in one installment, or $135, paid in three installments. Reduced rates are available for students, clinicians serving low-income and/or marginalized populations, and clinicians working in communities where session fees average $60 or below.

To the best of my ability, I seek to create a trauma-informed group experience. This includes awareness of and sensitivity to racial and cultural trauma, encouraging an anti-oppressive, anti-racist training environment, and inclusivity of marginalized voices.

Steinkauz (Athene noctua) zwei Jungvögel sitzen in Baum, Lleida, Spanien
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