The Fine Art of Failing

by Caelen S. Cann, LPC, LAC, ADS

PACT Level 3 Candidate


Irish novelist Samuel Beckett once said, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

When I graduated from Naropa University with my master’s in counseling, I was fortunate enough to have Buddhist teacher, author, and nun Pema Chödrön give the commencement speech. As a longtime fan of Pema, I was thrilled to be able to hear and see her (and bow to her as I received my diploma), but what stuck with me the most was not the star-struck nature of being in her presence, it was the lesson she provided in her speech. When trying to decide what to tell the auditorium full of graduating people, fresh-faced and new into the world of counseling and other fields, she thought about what skill we really needed that was not stressed enough: the fine art of failing. 

“There is a lot of emphasis on succeeding,” Pema said, “and whether we buy the hype or not, we...

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From Hurt to Hot: Helping Couples Navigate Sex After Trauma  

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

PACT Level 3 Candidate

modernintimacy.com


Sexual trauma knows no discrimination. It can happen to anyone, at any age, and occurs across gender, race, religious affiliation, and socioeconomic status. The statistics vary from study to study, but of reported cases, most studies concur that one out of three women and one out of six men will experience some form of sexual abuse prior to the age of 18. More obvious examples of sexual trauma might include molestation, rape, and sexual harassment at work. However, some of the more covert examples include early exposure to sexually graphic content, sexual betrayal, sexual shaming as a child or adult, and repeated sexual objectification.

For most couples, sex is an integral and enjoyable experience. Sex can be a chance to have fun, destress, and reconnect. Survivors of sexual trauma may have a bifurcated relationship to sex. At times they may feel liberated with pleasure, connection, and embodiment....

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Why Video Recording My Sessions Makes Me a Better Therapist

By Margaret Martin, LCSW, SEP

PACT Level 3 Candidate


Training in the PACT model sparks excitement for clinicians. It also presents a steep learning curve. Even seasoned therapists experience some uncertainty when learning such an active and complex approach. PACT challenges therapists to integrate multiple components and theories into a sophisticated model. The full integration, while quite satisfying, takes time, patience, and practice.

As with any new skill or approach, the process feels less daunting when therapists incorporate deliberate practice techniques into their learning. One of those techniques and a key element in PACT, videotaping sessions, aids clinicians in honing their PACT proficiencies. Reviewing recordings of sessions a few minutes per week facilitates learning and helps take a therapist’s work to new levels.

In this post I outline some of the advantages of the technique and share tools to help newcomers increase their comfort and confidence in...

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How the Pandemic Has Changed Us

From the Science of Psychotherapy, January 2021

By Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT


Most people will probably agree that 2020 has been an exceedingly difficult year: the world moving away from liberal democracy; a global pandemic that  may continue well into 2022; global economic markets in crisis; nation-state superpowers  waxing and waning; increasing threat of global  warming; fear of cyberwars coming to fruition;  the rise of what is now being called Big Social Data and social-media manipulation of the “truth”; the perfecting of deepfake technology; and the extinction of humankind through self-learning A.I. Yeah, what a year. 

One could also argue that this is an extraordinary time to be alive. The challenges we face  are like none other. Human beings have always  predicted the end of the world as we know it.  Yet each time over the millennia we seem to  make it — either through human ingenuity,  human...

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Windows to the Soul: Changing States Through Eye-Gazing

by Jacqui Christie, M.Psych

PACT Level 2 Therapist, PACT Ambassador


 Anyone who works with couples knows how tricky the particulars of partner dynamics can be. In fact, the more people in the room, the more energy gets brought into that room. The potential for that energy to become intense is high. 

Have you felt the heat rise between two partners as you work with them? You would know then that if you’re not paying close attention, things can easily go haywire. During my early career, I saw mainly individual clients, though I worked with couples from time to time.

However, after most of my couple sessions, I felt unskilled in one way or another and a more than a little let down. Don’t get me wrong, the couples wanted to keep coming, so I knew I must have been doing something right, but I didn’t seem to have a strong direction or model to guide me. 

Becoming a PACT Therapist

On a personal level, I was a longstanding fan of the Hendrix’s books,...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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