A Note of Gratitude and Our Vision for the Near Future — from Stan and Tracey Tatkin

We’ve known for a long time about the many benefits of cultivating a sense of gratitude: more joy, less stress, better health.

So when anxiety started to bubble up earlier this year, it seemed like an especially good time to begin a more intentional practice of flexing those gratitude muscles. Since then, we’ve made a habit of writing down what we are grateful for each day.

Even though life has been stressful and unpredictable, we’ve found a lot to appreciate. To start, we are truly thankful for our PACT community. This year especially, we found that we’re all in this together.

Silver Linings in 2020

Yes, there have been silver linings.

When we moved suddenly to offer training online earlier this year instead of the in-person training we had planned, we were scrambling to figure things out. Not only did we quickly learn about the usefulness of online training, we learned how resilient and supportive and dedicated our PACT community really is.

You stuck with...

Continue Reading...

Metaphors Become Reality: Helping to Secure Relationships Under Threat

By Edna Avraham, LMFT

PACT Level 3 Therapist, PACT Ambassador

www.ednaavraham.com


“We are in the fox hole together.”

“We are rowing the same boat.”

“Don’t poke holes in the couple bubble.

These metaphors represent some of the secure-functioning principles we use with our couples in the PACT approach. They represent collaborating and working as a team, prioritizing the relationship over self, being aware of the other’s emotional state, and being there to support them. 

As PACT therapists, we normally talk about the threats between partners — and use metaphors as visual tools to help couples through real issues. With the pandemic in full force, our couples are now dealing with both real physical and emotional threats. Their economic situation, the lack of extended family support or childcare, and every day stresses put their nervous systems way out of their window of tolerance. We are most likely seeing these clients at...

Continue Reading...

An Exercise to Help Navigate the Effects of Sexual Trauma

By Kate Balestrieri, Psy.D., CSAT-S, CST

PACT Level 3 Candidate, PACT Ambassador


For a sexual trauma survivor, the idea or act of being sexual with their partner can be ripe with hopes, pleasure, fears, frustrations, and shame. For the partner of a sexual trauma survivor, sex can be just as daunting; fear over what to say, what to do or not do when their partner feels triggered. Couples can become paralyzed or at war over difficulties in communicating their needs around sex. This is where a PACT therapist can be of invaluable assistance.

Consider Marco and Elana*. Elana endured sexual abuse at the hands of a family member when she was approximately six. The secondary trauma of invalidation and alienation following her eventual outcry left her hesitant to discuss the experience as an adult with any partners, even her long-time partner, Marco. She was in therapy for a long time and, for the most part, experienced few flashbacks or intrusive thoughts about the abuse  as an...

Continue Reading...

Getting to the Truth Through Cross-Tracking

By Eda Arduman, Ma.

PACT Level 2 Therapist, PACT Ambassador


The PACT therapist uses cross-tracking — a technique of inquiry as well as an intervention — along with other techniques to understand couple functioning. The therapist is aiming to get information about one partner by directing the question to their partner instead. 

This method allows the therapist to understand how collaborative the couple is as well as how much insight they have regarding each other. The therapist casts the question (regarding Partner B) to Partner A and follows by observing B’s somatic response. The somatic response gives an idea of what the person’s true response is in real time. Then by following up, the therapist can ask B if that is true or not. One can learn a lot about the couple. 

Acquiring Accurate Information

Cross-tracking allows us to acquire accurate information in an indirect way. Asking a person a direct question can be less useful because the person...

Continue Reading...

How Creating a Shared Purpose Unites and Renews Couples

By Beth Newton, LCSW, LCAS
PACT Level 2 Therapist, PACT Ambassador
https://newtoncounseling.com/


“Winter Is Coming”

“We Do Not Sow” 

“Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”

“Family, Duty, Honor” 

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you know that each ruling house has a sigil (magical symbol) and motto. The story takes place during a time of chaos with warring houses, harsh living conditions, and the threat of human extinction. The families inscribe their sigils and mottos on shields, flags, and stamps. From Season 1 through Season 7, the main characters repeat their mottos during times of stress, celebration, and danger.

Throughout history, the nations of the world have developed structures to transcend natural and man-made dangers. I am half Scottish from the Douglas clan. When my brothers were in high school and looking for a place of safety and belonging, they learned how to play the bagpipes and drums. Their membership in a bagpipe...

Continue Reading...

Staging to Influence the Thermostat in Couple Therapy

By Melissa Ferrari

Dip. of C & C, Advanced Dip in Transactional Analysis (Psychotherapy)

Clinical Registrant PACFA

PACT Level 3 Candidate, PACT Ambassador

https://melissaferrari.com.au/


We all know that moment when we see a couple for the first time. Immediately, as a trained PACT therapist, you notice nuances in how the couple interacts. One partner’s shoulders slouch as they walk in. The other has their chest puffed out almost as if they are protecting themselves. In that moment, you know you would bounce right off of them if you dared to approach or get too close.

Tom and Sarah are a couple in their mid-forties with two adult children who had moved away from home in the last year. Before we even all sit down to talk, I think to myself, “These two have been dysregulated for some time, possibly even years.” I notice, as their couple therapist, that I feel a little sad and possibly even a little worried about them. What is going on with this couple? What has...

Continue Reading...

Be Ready to Drop Your Darlings and Other Lessons from PACT

By Beth O’Brien, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

PACT Level 3 Therapist, PACT Ambassador

www.bethobriencounseling.com


In PACT training, Dr. Stan Tatkin shared this gem: “Be prepared to drop your darlings.” Darlings are those valuable insights a counselor acquires as s/he sees the concerns of the couple unfold. My initial response to his suggestion was “Oh, no!”

As a couple’s therapist of over 20 years, I’ve had many darlings to insert into the therapeutic work. Dr. Tatkin’s gem became an important guideline, as it advocated for the couple therapist to be open, flexible, aware of timing, and able to assess the benefit of an intervention.

Who hasn’t had the experience of sharing a clinical observation that falls flat? Which counselor hasn’t had a perceived valuable comment result in the couple squinting their eyes, their facial expression indicating discord, their inner thoughts confusion?

Before sharing a darling, I had to...

Continue Reading...

The PACT Institute: Growing with You in 2020 and Beyond

Dear PACT Community,

Happy 2020! Here at the PACT Institute we wanted to take this opportunity – as we enter a new decade – to share with you the vision we hold for the Institute in 2020 and beyond.

Our goal is to create a global and sustainable organization. In the last year, Stan, Tracey, the faculty, and our administrative team have worked hard to lay the foundation so that goal becomes a reality.

One of our biggest challenges at the Institute is meeting the increasing demand for training. As a businessperson – I admit – this is a problem I love having! We are meeting that challenge in a number of ways: a new website, new course offerings, and new ways to engage with the Institute.

At the heart of the Institute’s expansion efforts was updating to a new, more user-friendly website. The new site will be our gateway to even more training and educational opportunities in the future. Both the professional clinician and non-professional who is seeking...

Continue Reading...

When Partners Write Internal "Movie Scripts” that Hurt the Relationship

Hans Jorg Stahlschmidt, PhD

Certified PACT Therapist, PACT Core Faculty

stahlschmidt-therapy.com 


A central function of the brain is to detect patterns. It must make sense of the data that bombards us from our ongoing internal and external experience.  An aspect of this function is to support the sense of continuity and cohesiveness of the self. One way to understand this is the brain’s bias for narrative.

The brain does not function well without purpose, meaning, cohesion, and connectivity. It is busy trying to filter and assemble the data toward a cosmos. The brain cannot exist in chaos without severe repercussions for mental health and functioning in the larger world.

The magnitude of data that the brain is required to process makes it inevitable that significant omissions, mistakes, and distortion occur. These errors in pattern detection and assembly are filled by the left brain in its “narrator” function. The left-brain narrator function often works...

Continue Reading...

Mutual Injury: The Challenge of Symmetry

Patricia Hart, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist

PACT Level 3 Therapist, PACT Ambassador


We have all encountered that moment of impasse with our couples (and probably with our own relationships) when each partner feels like the injured party. The other is perceived as dangerous, and neither partner wants to or feels able to make a reparative move. Witnessing the struggle that ensues feels like watching a race to the bottom.

These moments remind me of my pothole theory of marriage:

The sun is shining, a soft breeze is in the air, and life is good. You and your partner walk down a winding road. Suddenly, a pothole appears. Before you can stop, you and your partner descend into a large dirty hole. How did it happen? Does it matter? The only important task is to help each other out as fast as possible so you can resume your enjoyment of the gorgeous day together.

If only life – and relationship – were so easy.

Couples locked in the grip of mutual recrimination are dysregulated....

Continue Reading...
1 2 3 4 5
Close

50% Complete

Two Step

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