By Joy A. Dryer, PhD
PACT Certified Clinician, PACT Faculty
“And I’m not your mother!”
“No. You’re much sexier.” Eddie reaches for Eve’s hand. She pulls it back.
Eve shakes her brown curls ‘no’ and gazes past him at the floor. “Your mother bought one cupcake with a stupid candle for your birthdays. She made no big deal of Thanksgiving or other holidays. She was so different from my mother, who made me feel special when she celebrated events important to me.” She then looks directly at Eddie.
Eddie juts his chin forward, “You know that my mom’s parents couldn’t afford gifts so they let birthdays, even Christmas, slide. Also, well, you know, my mom believed in tough love. My parents didn’t spoil us."
Eve stamps her foot. “That’s an f-ing excuse! Making kids feel special doesn’t mean you spoil them!”
Eddie shifts in his chair. “I don’t see what this has to...
By Daniel Scrafford
PACT Level 3 Therapist
In my early professional years, I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?
— Carl R. Rogers
Carl Rogers’ quote describes how he saw the therapeutic alliance in individual therapy. A therapist needs to develop an alliance with clients to ensure a successful outcome in therapy (Stubbe, 2019). Rogers’ brilliance is reflected in his theory, his techniques, and his ability to emotionally resonate with the client. In relationship therapy, the therapeutic alliance is made up of several facets. Both partners must believe the therapist is competent, the therapist is an expert in addressing their problem area, and the therapist has the capacity to empathize and resonate with the client’s emotional field.
This paper will explore how therapists can use their...
Dear PACT Community,
Happy 2024! As we enter the new year, I’m excited to take this opportunity to look back and reflect on what the PACT Institute has accomplished and to let you know about this year’s plans for continuous growth and improvement – ours and yours!
Looking Back: We’ve Learned and Grown Together
By Angela Aiello, Ph.D. LMFT
PACT Level 2 Therapist
It’s cliché, but it was really turning into the vacation from hell:
“Oh, for f***’s sake, you’re not maneuvering in the right direction.”
“Me? It’s you! You’re the one who steered us into the muck! Try to move the oars like this!”
“I’m trying, but you’re not letting me….”
We were literally stuck in the mud, batting back and forth harsh and unfriendly tones and escalating stage-whispers that would rival any Greek tragedy. My husband and I ran aground — and we were barely out of the boat slip. This normally would be a fun embarrassment, but this was about the tenth thing to go wrong on our much-anticipated and needed trip to Hawaii.
“Oh jeez, the kayaks are lining up behind us. This is horrible! This—
“Let ME HANDLE IT!”
“But you don’t know what you’re doing!”
“Look at the sky!!!...
William Ryan, PhD
PACT Level 3 Therapist
Sarah and Dylan have been married sixteen years and have two children together. Over the last four years, Sarah has been increasingly dissatisfied in the marriage. She has repeatedly asked Dylan to do couple therapy with her. Dylan consistently responded by rolling his eyes, dismissing Sarah's concerns, and making it abundantly clear he felt pressured by her requests. Consequently, it got more difficult for Sarah to talk to Dylan about her dissatisfaction. She began to feel lonelier and more unpartnered in her marriage.
Every time Sarah brought up couple therapy, Dylan responded, “We’re fine. We don’t need it. If we have a problem, we can handle it ourselves." In this widespread dynamic, one partner pleads to get professional help for the relationship while the other balks at the idea.
Why do partners dispute the need for couple therapy? There are a multitude of reasons. Often the partner has adopted cultural prohibitions...
This month, we’re celebrating a new cohort to have earned the distinct title of PACT Certified Therapist. These therapists completed the highest level of PACT training this year, and you may see them teaching classes, offering consultation, or sharing PACT research projects.
We asked them why they wanted to become PACT Certified, what the process was like for them, if they have any advice for others considering certification, and a couple of questions just for fun! Learn a little more about each of them.
“The main reason that I decided to become PACT Certified is because of the PACT community. PACT really is my therapy-home, and I love getting opportunities to spend time with my colleagues and friends. The work of being a therapist is so private, and the work we do with couples is pretty specific, so I will jump at any chance to sit down with a group of people who really understand the PACT model.”
“I have put in lots of...
Ah, the holiday season — a time of celebration, togetherness, and making cherished memories with loved ones. AND a time filled with unique challenges, sometimes unrealistic expectations, and potential stressors that can strain even secure-functioning relationships.
From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, couples find themselves in conflict as they navigate complex family dynamics and try to balance time and resources.
Here PACT certified therapists explain why the holidays can be such a stressful time and offer practical strategies for you and your partner not only to survive the holidays but to find joy and connection in the midst of the chaos.
The holidays are like other special events like a birthday or anniversary, but they go on for several days or more. So, instead of a few hours, couples are figuring out how to spend several days or longer in a way that feels festive and good to...
As PACT founder Stan Tatkin says, “A daily gratitude practice is a happiness practice.”
And the cultivation of gratitude in your own life can serve as a potent tool to enhance your clients' emotional well-being — and your own.
More than just a platitude, gratitude has the transformative ability to rewire our brains, foster our resilience, and instill in each of us a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment.
We asked some PACT faculty members how they cultivate gratitude in their own lives. They generously shared their insights about the field and a few about themselves. Enjoy! And thank you for being a part of the PACT community.
Eda Arduman, MA, Clinical Psychologist, PACT Faculty
Q. What’s one thing that made you smile recently?
A. We had been unsuccessfully trying to schedule time with some dear friends. Then last Saturday night, my husband and I decided to get some ice cream, and at 10pm we came across our friends in the middle of Principe Street in Lisbon. We all walked toward each...
By Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT
The topic of your disagreement is not as important as how you handle the disagreement. Most issues boil down to errors in memory, perception, and communication. You can solve many of these mistakes by doing the following:
1. Make eye contact. If you are able to check in with each other’s eyes, you’ll be able to catch errors quicker and emotionally regulate one another. Drop all distractions when you have a disagreement and go face-to-face.
If you’re unable to do this when a disagreement pops up, address the issue but agree to return to the issue at a time when you can.
2. Slow down. It’s common for partners to go too fast when they get into a fight – to the point where they are speaking faster than they can think. Avoid making errors by taking a breath and consciously slowing down as you speak.
3. Be brief. Make a point and then allow your partner to make a point. You should have a nice back-and-forth. The longer...
In place of a blog article this month, we’re sharing a question that a PACT community member posted in the Google Group recently, along with several responses. Both the question and the responses were thoughtful and authentic, and we wanted our larger PACT community to have the benefit of reading them.
The question of how to maintain enthusiasm for your work as a therapist and avoid burnout is an important one, and we hope some of these responses will resonate with you.
Also, if you’re a PACT-trained therapist and you’re not yet a member of the PACT Google Group, request to join today! You’ll find valuable information and become part of a vibrant community of dedicated PACT therapists seeking to do their best work.
I am a new therapist. I graduated last summer and got off the ground in a private group super quickly. All throughout my practicum and...