How PACT Can Help You Reimagine Your Money Differences and Dilemmas

for couples Sep 13, 2023

By Ed Coambs, MBA, MA, MS, CFP®, LMFT, CFT-I™
PACT Level 2 Therapist

Why is couples therapy important for the two of you?

For me, it comes from seeing and experiencing the relational, psychological, and physical pain that comes up around money and relationships. 

Early in my marriage, money became an overwhelming source of pain, confusion, anxiety, and distress. Over the course of my life, I have watched and experienced profoundly painful things happen related to money in my family life with nowhere to turn to sort through what this would mean. 

  • An ex-wife suing her ex-husband multiple times to the point of bankruptcy
  • A sibling struggling to make ends meet while my life flourished financially 
  • As a child experiencing my mom’s criticisms of my father's spending on home improvement projects 

There is so much more to each of these story segments and yet they are all related and connected in complex ways to my sense of self, mind, brain, and body....

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PACT Therapy: How It Works, Cost, and What to Expect

for couples Aug 15, 2023

By Krista Jordan, PhD
PACT Certified Candidate

PACT therapy is a highly dynamic form of couples therapy developed by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT. What distinguishes PACT therapy from all other forms of couples therapy to date is the integration of one of the newest areas of psychology and psychiatry — interpersonal neurobiology. This subfield focuses on the interaction of the brain and nervous system within and between humans.

Sessions are typically two to three hours long. While PACT therapy was developed originally to help couples in severe circumstances, it can be applied to almost any pairing. This includes parents and children, siblings, or even friends. If a couple (or pair) has very high levels of distress, sessions may need to be shorter (closer to an hour) but more frequent (instead of once a week, they may meet two to three times).

PACT & Attachment Theory

To develop PACT, Stan took important developments from interpersonal neurobiology and merged them with a...

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Mic Drop! Listen In as Stan Speaks Out

for couples Jul 17, 2023

PACT Founder Stan Tatkin has had a busy year promoting the principles and rewards of secure-functioning relationships. 

As a clinician, author, and frequent podcast guest, Stan pours his energy and expertise into caring for the smallest union of human primates — couples. In his latest book and over the airwaves, he dissects the common couple conflicts he has seen partners repeat throughout his career. 

Stan compels us to stop, just stop, look each other in the eye, and find common ground. Of course, relationships can and should be positive and fun-loving, but Stan cautions that for love relationships to last, partners must mutually abide by the key organizational principles that they create to avoid a chronic loop of arguments. 

In these podcasts Stan rinses, washes, and repeats the formula for genuine connection in secure-functioning relationships. He reminds us that as human primates, we constantly misunderstand each other and thus are prone to quick, negative...

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One Simple Ritual to Strengthen Communication Between Partners

By Falon Hooks, MA, t-LMFT
PACT Level 2 Therapist

If you are coming into my office for couples therapy, I can guess that one central concern is communication. Whether it is too infrequent, too intense, or too uncomfortable of a topic, many of you will sit lips pursed, hoping the unspoken moment will pass. 

Those micro-moments of anxiety and disconnection add up quickly. Before you realize it, you cannot remember the last time you sat facing your partner to chat and, more importantly, connect. 

When I consider how communication between partners must work, I immediately turn to secure-functioning principles of honesty and transparency. Just say what is true.

How many times have you felt a shift in your partner’s mood and the moment you inquire, they brush it off? Their replies range from a grunt to “Nothing” to “I don’t want to talk right now.” 

Alarm bells start to sound, you clam up, and you are quite certain trouble is looming. You...

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Proper Comanagement of Thirds

for couples Apr 14, 2023

Excerpted from In Each Other's Care: A Guide to the Most Common Relationship Conflicts and How to Work Through Them by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, LMFT (Sounds True, 2023)

As mentioned in chapter 2, any and all thirds that threaten the safety and security of the couple system should be comanaged by partners in a timely fashion so as not to disturb the peace. Thirds can be alcohol, drugs, people, tasks, work, porn, parents, children, friends, exes, pets, or electronics. If one primary partner experiences jealousy, that is certainly a sign of mismanagement by the other. The proper use of a third is to work with it—on it, for it, or against it—together and not separately. We’ll revisit this topic in chapter 9.

Work the Problem, Not Each Other

Learn to focus together on the task at hand whether it is a problem, a decision, a desire, a conundrum, or a plan. The issue between you is a third that must be managed together if you are to be an alliance and a team....

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How to Talk About Sex from a PACT Perspective

for couples pomeranz sex Nov 16, 2022

By Kelifern Pomeranz, PsyD, CST

PACT Level 3 Therapist

Yolanda and Miguel struggle to talk about sex. Yolanda worries that Miguel is no longer attracted to her and feels insecure, rejected, and confused. Miguel has always had a low libido and more recently has been having difficulty maintaining erections. He is embarrassed, sad, and full of shame about his lack of desire and sexual performance and often withdraws as a result. Miguel’s withdrawal only increases Yolanda’s suspicion and anxiety that he no longer wishes to be with her. 

Tao and Arthur struggle to talk about sex. While deeply in love they have always had different sexual wants and desires. Upon mutual agreement, they seek sexual partners outside of their relationship to satisfy the majority of their sexual needs. As time goes on, they worry about how this sexual incompatibility (not having sex with each other) will impact their future together.

Maddox and Penelope struggle to talk about sex. He is...

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How Mentor Couples Look at Commitment

By Claire Isaacson, MA LMHC PLLC
PACT Level 2 Therapist

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...

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Gearing Up to Get Outside

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...

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Parenting During a Pandemic and Other Tough Times

 Kara Hoppe, MA, MFT

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...

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Building Capacity to Know and Be Known in PACT Therapy

for couples renee d doe Feb 17, 2022

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...

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