The Monthly Seminar

Integrate ISTPD & PACT therapies to deepen your work with couples.

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Join PACT-certified and ISTDP-trained therapist Margaret Martin for an exploration into the dynamic union of these two powerful models. Marry key components of each model for efficient work with your couples.


The Material

Blending core tenets and techniques from ISTDP with principles and interventions from PACT, you'll enhance your ability to:

maintain your therapeutic stance

differentiate therapeutic alliance from compliance

recognize the unconscious invitation to relationship

identify & respond to initial signs of anxiety

connect partner intrapsychic conflicts to interpersonal relationship conflicts

identify & clarify defenses

work with helplessness, passivity, & other ego-syntonic defenses

recognize partners’ will & absence of will

identify & dismantle projections

The Models

Despite obvious differences, one designed for work with individuals and the other for work with couples, Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) and a Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy (PACT) share several key characteristics. Both ISTDP and PACT are psychodynamic, experiential, relational, and transformation-oriented psychotherapies. They dovetail nicely with areas of overlap and opportunities for mutual enhancement. Points of intersection between the two models include theoretical underpinnings, therapeutic technique and training, application of technique and theory, and therapeutic stance. Additionally, in both models the therapist takes a direct approach, actively leverages pain to motivate change, and uses video-recording of sessions for training and self-supervision. Read more about ISTDP here, here, and here. Learn more about PACT here, here, and here.

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  • creates a pathway to identify & restructure defenses
  • attends to unconscious client communication & latent content
  • presents a framework for the moment-to-moment understanding of the system
  • articulates the intrapsychic conflicts & impact on interpersonal relationships
  • contributes a dynamic understanding of clients' symptoms, characteristics, & capacity
  • emphasizes the cost of the status quo
  • provides language for step-by-step clarification of problem, goals, and intent
  • clarifies case conceptualization
  • provides a clear method to identify anxiety & early signs of dysregulation
  • offers techniques for client regulation & capacity building


  • provides an explicit therapeutic stance for working with couples
  • leverages pain to motivate change
  • positions the relationship as the safe harbor for both partners
  • challenges impediments to a secure functioning relationship
  • emphasizes the here-and-now experience in session
  • focuses on moment-to-moment shifts and changes between partners
  • teaches partners to attune to each other
  • creates pressure for collaboration between partners
  • de-emphasizes the role of the therapist
  • encourages a level playing field
  • facilitates rapid relationship change
  • has foundations in attachment theory, neuroscience, and biology of human arousal
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The Details

We'll meet monthly for six months from 2:00-5:00 p.m. Central Time, beginning Friday, March 10. The fee is $135 per month when paid monthly, or $115 per month in advance ($690 total). 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.

Registration requires payment for all six modules regardless of attendance. Non-clinical portions of sessions will be recorded for later viewing in case of absence. Instruction methods include didactic lecture, presentation of session recordings, and group discussion.

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.

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