The PACT Therapeutic Stance

by Melissa Ferrari – Dip. of Couns.& Comm/Adv. Dip in Transactional Analysis
PACFA Clinically Registered  Psychotherapist & Couple Therapist
PACT LEVEL III Practitioner
Sydney, Australia

I love being a couple therapist, and after 18 years, I am pretty confident I know what I’m doing—mostly. What I love about the work is the sense of honor I feel when a couple engage me in their process and I can help them create a better relationship. Each and every time I embark on that journey, I commit to it fully and I give it my all. It is such a privilege.

As you can imagine, I’ve learned many skills and worked with a range of modalities. Some of these have stayed with me, but many have been left behind. Not only is it my professional responsibility to stay on top of what’s new in clinical practice and what the clinical evidence tells us about what works and what doesn’t, but for me it’s also important to keep learning, to stay fresh and connected as a way of keeping the work alive.

Keeping the work alive and trusting the evidence is a big part of what drew me to training in PACT. Having studied levels I and II, I’ve used the techniques time and time again—so much so that PACT has proven itself to me. I’ve now completed one module of level III, and I am so confident the approach is a good fit that I am committed to working toward certification.

What makes me so certain about PACT? It’s been really rewarding clinically, and the concept of pushing couples through the funnel of secure functioning has been the most containing way of working as a couple therapist I have experienced. PACT has settled me and provided the right frame for me to grow in confidence and effectiveness. For me, it comes down to holding the steady concept of secure functioning and using this to contain my work. Trusting this process has led to success with couples, no matter what their issues may be, in ways I could not have imagined.

I don’t like sounding evangelical, but I have to say the PACT process simply works! And it works across the gamut of issues with which couples grapple. Whether it’s dealing with the devastation of an affair, the pain of financial pressures, corrosive mistrust, or the trap of addiction cycles, PACT cuts through the noise and guides the couple in how to pay attention to each other so attunement becomes their primary objective.

The benefits that result from looking, watching, and observing each other and integrating these skills into daily life are the creation of a mindful environment, which in turn promotes growth for the couple. It’s very powerful to observe.

PACT has increased my confidence as a therapist and taken my foundation of strong skills and lifted me to the next level. In my work, this translates into the faith that I am able to take on a couple for therapy even if they present as complex (e.g., couples in which one or both have personality disorders). I no longer feel concerned that a personality disorder may emerge in therapy or that it will become too hard to manage the therapy. The frame of secure functioning can be used on any couple who want a more rewarding relationship, filled with trust and security. I am very grateful for the PACT approach, and while I believe it’s an approach that works best for certain types of therapists, for me, the glove fits perfectly.


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