PACT Couple Therapy
The PACT Approach to Couple Therapy
PACT couple therapy offers partners a new approach to old problems.
Many people avoid couple therapy, concerned that they'll end up spending large amounts of time and money rehashing old arguments and trotting out their dirty laundry in front of a stranger. Some doubt that relationship therapy can make a difference.
What I offer, however, is not old-school couple therapy. I use a model of couple therapy called a Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy (PACT), which provides a markedly different approach to couple therapy. PACT has a reputation for effectively treating the most challenging couples. Developed by Dr. Stan Tatkin, PACT is a fusion of attachment theory, developmental neuroscience, and arousal regulation. These theories guide PACT therapists as we help move couples towards a secure, functioning relationship. The model builds upon the understanding that our first relationships in life, those with our primary caregivers, create the blueprint for all the relationships that follow. The care and nurturing we receive from birth and throughout our childhood influences our relationships with others throughout our lives. PACT therapists help couples better understand and regulate each other to create a stronger relationship. In PACT, couples learn to interact with and respond to each other more effectively so that when problems arise the partners can better handle them. Tatkin developed this model to work with all types of couples, from the most troubled to those that simply need a bit of tweaking. My work with couples includes those who struggle with substance abuse or have experienced other forms of betrayal. I work comfortably with both straight and same-sex couples, as well as trans and gender-nonconforming folks.
In the session, I pay close attention to moment-to-moment changes and responses in partners' faces, voices, and body language as they act and react to each other. I teach couples to notice these changes in their partners so they can better read and understand each other. PACT therapy moves quickly, often helping couples see results in the first few sessions. I generally expect that my work with a couple will last between six months and a year. Couples are often able to reduce the frequency of sessions within a few months.
Once I begin working with a couple, the relationship becomes my client. I do not see or communicate with individual members of the partnership without the other present, and sessions don't begin until both partners arrive. Sessions typically last two hours.
I started training with Stan in 2012 and continue to receive training and consultation from Stan and other core PACT faculty. I'm one of four Level 3 PACT-trained therapists in Texas and I provide supplemental training for the PACT Institute. Here, here, and here are articles I wrote for the PACT Institute newsletter.
I highly recommend Dr. Tatkin’s audible download "Your Brain on Love." Listening to it will save you time and money in couple therapy, and who doesn't want that?
You can find more information on Stan and the PACT model here.