Building Secure Functioning in the Face of Difference

Eda Arduman, Ma.
PACT Level II therapist
Istanbul, Turkey
edaarduman.com

Agreeing to disagree can be easier said than done. Some people believe that their beliefs and values constitute their character, and thus can’t be changed. But a relationship in which change is disallowed will not be successful in the long term. The process of understanding a partner—including the risk of having to change in unexpected ways—can be bewildering. For example, who takes the leadership role? Who follows? The couple must learn to negotiate their differences, as well as any resulting conflicts, while creating and maintaining secure functioning.

I work in Istanbul, a city that bridges two continents, and cross-cultural couples are common in my practice. I want to share one example. Roland is Belgian, and Didem is Turkish. They met while students at a university in London, and have been married for 13 years, with two children. She works as an executive, he as a consultant. They joint...

Continue Reading...

The Devil is in the Details

Krista Jordan, Ph.D., ABPP
PACT Level III candidate
Austin, TX
www.kristajordan.com

“He doesn’t find me attractive,” she lamented, eyes cast downward toward his shoes.

My interest as this couple’s therapist was piqued: the woman before me could easily be mistaken for a model. I turned to him and said, “Tell her what you find attractive about her.”

After an uncomfortable pause, he offered, “I like her hair; it’s dark.”

I felt confused. What about her eyes? Lips? She looked even more dejected, focusing intently on the carpet. “What else?” I queried.

He seemed to be searching for a lost item. “Um, her back is really toned.”

I could see her collapsing further, the corners of her mouths starting to droop. “What about her face?”

He paused. “Um, I like her eyes. They’re kind.”

I began to wonder if we had stumbled upon a deficit. I turned to him and said, “Describe your...

Continue Reading...

The Poetry of Couple Communication

Susan B. Saint-Rossy, LCSW
PACT Level III candidate
Ashburn, VA
www.relationship-therapist.com

Most couples who come to me identify their main problem as lack of or poor communication. Many times, couples believe that if they just learned to communicate properly, their relationship would be “fixed.” Thus, various therapeutic schools have come up with techniques (e.g., active listening, the use of “I” statements) to give order to a messy, complicated process. From the PACT perspective, these approaches can oversimplify a couple’s situation.

PACT recognizes that communication is complex, nonlinear, and multidimensional—much like poetry. Couples’ communication includes the symbolic language of words, micro-expressions, body language, tone of voice, and other elements. There is no one-to-one correlation between words and meaning, or...

Continue Reading...

Using PACT in Individual Therapy: A Pro-Relationship Stance 

Margaret Martin, LCSW, SEP
PACT Level III candidate
Austin, TX
margaretmartinlcsw.com

When I started my career, I was a dyed-in-the-wool individual therapist, with little or no interest in couple therapy. My master’s program offered minimal education in couple therapy, and because I had no plans to pursue that, I assumed my training in couples’ work would end there. But then a friend convinced me that taking the PACT training would help me grow as an individual therapist. What began as a tepid dipping of my toes into the pool of couple therapy evolved into a dive into a deep, fulfilling sea. Not only do I love my work with couples, but my training as a couple therapist has enhanced my work with individuals.

The principles that make up the foundation of PACT apply to all kinds of relationships, not just romantic partnerships. Individual clients...

Continue Reading...

Joysticks and Controllers: Using PACT With Kids Who Use Video Games Obsessively

Jason Brand, LCSW
PACT Level II
Berkeley, CA
www.jasonbrand.com

Video games used to have joysticks—simple black boxes with a red trigger button and a stick for movement. Today they have controllers that are multi-buttoned, provide sensory feedback, and obey spoken commands. In many families, I see a longing to return to the joyful days of the joystick. In these families, the controller has become far more than just a way to manipulate video games on the digital screen; it is the nexus of a power struggle for healthy development in the child.

Michael, age fourteen, was caught up in this kind of family drama. Unlike kids who act out and do dangerous things outside the home, Michael was “acting in” by refusing to do anything away from the digital screen. His parents had lost control. They swung between desperate extremes. In one moment, they were gently delivering dinner to the computer because he refused to come to the table and eat. In the next, they were violently...

Continue Reading...

The Making of a Third

Sara Slater, MSW, LICSW

Seattle, WA

PACT Level III candidate

[email protected]

 

Apparently the pregnant couple in my office didn’t want to talk about preparing for baby at all. Instead, in the first minutes of their first session, Meg launched into her frustrations about their house and the dog and Rob’s work and their finances. Her hands were folded protectively over her belly, while Rob remained silent, leaning back in his chair, arms folded behind his head. The more she escalated, the calmer he appeared. Neither looked much at the other; both frequently turned to me, with a look that said, “See what I’m dealing with?” No one mentioned the baby, except to answer that she was due in about six weeks.

So, what was happening here? Instead of nestling into their couple bubble, joyfully anticipating the baby to be, or supporting each other through fluctuating anxieties and preparations, they were retreating into attacking, blaming, and...

Continue Reading...

The Body Knows How to Love

 Michele McCormick, Ph.D.
PACT Level III candidate
Newport Beach, CA
www.drmmc.com

The body tells the story. In contrast with traditional psychoanalysts, PACT-trained therapists need not take an extensive life history in the first session to discern how a client’s past affects how he or she relates to his or her partner. Sure, early histories eventually emerge during the highly interactive Partner Attachment Interview. However, for a PACT therapist, the way a couple interact in the realm of the body becomes a powerful early assessment of where they are with each other. Are they securely attached? Are they safely in one another’s care?

Alex came to therapy to fight for his 6-year relationship. He described feeling neglected by Cindy. They had not had sex in more than a year, and he longed for intimacy. He believed Cindy did not love him and he demanded she agree to marry him within the next 30 days to prove her devotion. Cindy’s belief was that she did love him,...

Continue Reading...

Renewing Love at a Wired for Love Retreat

by Beth O’Brien, PhD, licensed psychologist
PACT Level III candidate
http://bethobriencounseling.com/


“Fast acting, long lasting.” Those are the words one couple used to describe their experience of PACT in session with me. As a PACT Level III candidate, I find that once each partner learns to really understand the other and how the other works, their relationship runs more smoothly.

Couples often begin their first counseling session pointing their finger at the other partner. They blame, explain, and defend. I understand that they are angry and hurt, and it took a while for them to come to counseling. As our sessions continue, the partners experience the benefit of safe and secure functioning, and this becomes the primary goal for their relationship and how they want to be with one another. Through PACT interventions, they begin to collaborate more. “I” becomes “we.” They look out for one another more. What the other person says and needs...

Continue Reading...

What Dating Apps Can Steal From You

Uncategorized Jan 17, 2017

by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT


Las Vegas used to have slot machines known as one-armed bandits. You only needed to move one arm to let them take all your money. Most slot machines now have buttons or a digital interface, but I remember seeing people in casinos hypnotically putting money in the slot, pulling the lever, listening and watching the cylinders spin, and every now and then getting a (usually small) reward. It’s addictive. Why? Because even though it is a repetitive action, the possibility of being rewarded causes the brain to experience novelty. And our brains love novelty. The fact that the reward is intermittent makes you feel you have to pull that lever one more time. If you do, you might just hit the jackpot.

It occurs to me that some of the new apps for dating or hooking up are similarly addictive. For example, consider Tinder, which is available on all platforms. You can scroll through a plethora of faces and find ones in your local area. Then you swipe to the...

Continue Reading...

Seeing and Understanding Each Other

john grey Jan 15, 2017

by John Grey, PhD
PACT core faculty
healingcouplesretreats.com


Like many couples who arrive for their first session, Robert and Susan initially sat down facing me rather than each other. Both in their mid fifties, they had been married for seventeen years and had two children they loved very much. As Susan started describing what brought them to my office, I saw Robert’s facial expression occasionally change. But Susan did not see this. As she complained about not feeling very important to him, she didn’t notice Robert’s momentary grimaces. If she had seen these, she might have realized that she had a big impact on him.

A basic principle of secure functioning is that couples are in each other’s care. Part of the PACT method is to help partners accurately recognize their moment-to-moment impact on each other, and to help each use his or her power to better care for the other and thereby increase shared satisfaction.

One step in this approach is to turn partners...

Continue Reading...
Close

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.