I have been a therapist for over 30 years, and I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard my individual clients wonder if it’s even possible for a romantic relationship to last.
They look around and see relationships on the brink, under strain, marked by tension and dashed dreams. And if they come from a family where there was divorce or infidelity, they feel even more doubtful. It can be hard to think of a couple they look up to, learn from, or feel calmed or inspired by. They don’t see couples that give them hope. Maybe you don’t either.
We all need to see, in real life, mentor couples, couples who give us hope. One of the many things I love about PACT is that it provides a structure to grow ourselves into mentor couples. And that’s good for all of us.
I have been married for a bit longer than I have been a therapist, and my husband is also a therapist. We have a solid, happy...
PACT Level 3
Any couple's relationship can be challenging to navigate, but when one or both partners have ADHD, the usual difficulties are compounded, which can cause the couple to feel like they are lost in a maze.
The three types of ADHD are inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and a combination of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive. While every case of ADHD manifests slightly differently, here are just a few common symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
ADHD in Adults
You might be tempted to self-diagnose with ADHD, but organizations...
PACT Level 2 Therapist
As a seasoned PACT therapist, I have used this model for over a decade to transform couple relationships. I’m intensely passionate and loyal to PACT and never thought I would even glance in the direction of another model. Internal Family Systems (IFS) is the method that eventually piqued my interest and has been able to compliment PACT with some very inspiring outcomes.
I recall a conversation with my best friend, a fellow PACT therapist, about how many roles we have to maintain: wife, mother, therapist, self. We got into a great huddle talking about our roles and how many times we feel controlled by them, as though our nervous systems are hijacked, and we are made to act as if we are nine years old again. We started to play around with language and realized that by simply speaking from parts, i.e., “A younger part of me feels abandoned when you invite other people over without asking me...
By Lee Kraemer, R.P. CTP dipl. B.A.
PACT Level 3 Therapist
Let’s address the good, the bad, and the ugly use of humor by both therapists and couples.
Most people have experienced the discomfort of being with a sniping couple at a dinner party or in a therapeutic setting.
“I’m only joking,” they say as they entertain the audience with their witty repartee after skewering their partner. Zingers, so good at weaponizing words, are amusing remarks that shoot into a conversation and wound like a sharpened arrow.
We have all encountered the couples who provide stand-up comics with inspiration, the people who publicly out their partner or back-handedly dis their partner with a comment that is insulting, disrespectful, or critical. A backhanded zinger often follows “I was only joking. Can’t you take a joke?”
Zingers and Comedians
The intention of a stand-up comedian delivering the following lines has a very different impact on...
Blair Anne Hensen, MS, LCPC, NCC
PACT Level 2 Therapist
As the daylight grows longer and temperatures get warmer, it’s time to get outside! Nature is an incredibly important part of wellness. Stepping out of our human-made worlds and into nature offers presence external to ourselves. Simply taking in the sensations — the sound of birds singing, the deep smell of a forest, the feeling of sunshine warming our skin in the spring — allows our attention to move outward.
Spending time outside as a couple has significant benefits: movement, laughter, play, presence, connection are all stress reducing effects. But sometimes getting outside for activities is stressful. It takes planning, deciding what activity to do and how long you want to be out, gathering the right gear, communicating about skills and possible risks. The list goes on.
Depending on where you live, you may face difficult elements. In Montana, where I live, the weather can change rapidly. Traveling in...
PACT Level 3 Therapist
PACT therapists help couples create what Stan Tatkin calls a couple bubble. In this relational space, each partner can be themselves and accept each other as is. The bubble is an ecosystem that fosters safety and security for partners. Once their couple bubble is established, couples may benefit from taking action to proactively solve problems by couple huddling.
Partners tend to underestimate the rewards of mutual influence. They deal with their couple problems independently without consulting their partner. In doing so, they fail to realize that their partner brings helpful insights and resources to challenges. Learning to couple huddle applies the secure-functioning principle that partners protect their relationship and workshop problems together via collaboration.
What is Couple Huddling?
When partners come together to solve a problem or reach a common goal, they are huddling. Partners can feel stuck in a pressing...
PACT Level 2
PACT Note to Parents: For guided practice and more skills to bring to your partnership, register for Kara’s Win-Win Parenting: Better Partners Make Better Parents, a new PACT workshop for couples, Saturdays online, April 23–May 21.
When I read articles such as “Parenting in 2021? ‘Not Great, Bob!’” (Grose, 2021) and “Every Parent I know Wants to Walk into the Sea Now” (McCombs, 2022), I feel seen. Even “Parents are losing their minds. Time to watch ‘Encanto’ again” (Niazi, 2022) makes my soul laugh. As a pregnant person parenting a small boy during the pandemic and struggling to maintain my sanity — let alone balance — knowing I’m not alone is like having a warm cup of milk for my sleepless nights.
Some days our son Jude is safe enough at preschool, and my husband Charlie and I are able to work, catch up on folding the laundry, do a little...
Lilian Borges, LPC
PACT Level 3 Therapist
The two things I am most passionate about are hypnosis and PACT. I have been teaching hypnosis for almost 30 years and, as I am deepening my understanding of PACT, I have been exploring ways to integrate PACT and hypnosis. I’d like to share some recent experiences from my private practice in Arizona.
Naturalistic trances are embedded in the PACT experiential approach and interventions. The eye-gazing technique is a naturalistic hypnotic approach. An externally focused trance shows the couple’s dynamics in real time without the confusing smokescreen of verbal language. The eye fixation that eye gazing develops is a light natural trance as opposed to a more formal trance induction.
PACT uses experiential techniques as an intervention, and assessment tools to prove a hypothesis. The therapist can observe what’s happening and ask questions about...
Renee D. Doe, PhD, LMFT, LPC
PACT Level 1 Therapist
The idea of secure functioning is a main focus of PACT therapy. This focus hones in on creating and maintaining a safe container, where both parties operate in a two-person attachment system free of deception, abusive behaviors, and any other injurious actions that interfere with healthy functioning and fairness within the relationship. At heart, this idea is what could be called salutogenic because it focuses on the capacity you have to construct a healthy life instead of making the management of risk and relational conflict the primary focus.
The injuries that are brought into the relationship can and do impact the relationship. In moving toward the cultivation of secure functioning in relationships, PACT therapy also creates space for some of the challenges and difficulties that you may have had...
PACT Level 3 Therapist
Hmm. Oooh. Aaah.
Writing a blogpost about the importance of using sounds as a technique or intervention within couples therapy is challenging. When I asked my colleagues for the best ways to describe these sounds, their replies varied: Motherese. Emotional prosody. Non-verbal bursts. These are all terms that describe non-linguistic sounds that rely on pitch, timbre, volume, stress patterns, and intonation to communicate emotion and attunement between client and therapist and, more importantly, between partners in a couple. Often, reverberations resemble those between mother and baby. The value of using these vocal tones to hold the couple within a container and move them closer toward secure functioning is potent and worth sharing.
The Importance of Vocal Tonalization
The intention for the therapist in using sounds is two-fold. First, referencing Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP),...