What is PACT?
Founded by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, the Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT) is a style of couples counseling that is based on cutting edge neuroscience research. PACT integrates 3 research disciplines and more than 30 therapy modalities to effectively and rapidly shift the way couples communicate, interact, and understand each other. Unlike other counseling methods that are predominantly concerned about keeping couples together no matter what, PACT is focused on creating mutual agreements to ensure that when a couple stays together, it is a good deal for both. Thus, PACT is more concerned with training couples to create mutuality and safety, founded upon sound relationship principles.
Who can benefit from PACT?
Couples often come to therapy when:
- They’re struggling to effectively communicate with each other.
- They’re at an impasse in the relationship.
- They’ve become disconnected.
- Trust has been broken.
- The physical and emotional intimacy has stopped.
- Couples struggle to see the path back to the safe bond they once enjoyed.
PACT principles illuminate clear guideposts so that both partners understand their roles and responsibilities in the relationship. With this knowledge at hand, old habits can be broken and repair is made possible. PACT is especially effective at working with the most challenging couples and related issues. It also provides a specific structure for working with betrayal and infidelity.
The 3 disciplines of PACT
The advancement in brain imagery has shed new lights on our brain’s functioning. This provides a physiological basis for understanding actions and reactions in intimate relationships. The human brain is wired for survival. On one side, it is designed to seek, detect and eliminate threat, which is unfortunate for relationships. However, on the other side, it is also wired toward reproduction, connectivity and mutually fulfilling relationships. PACT leverages these neuroscientific advancements to stylistically decipher significant mysteries surrounding what goes wrong and what goes right.
Each individual enters a relationship with expectations and habits formed during their early, formative years. This blueprint tees up automatic behaviors, beliefs, and biases that, when unchecked, become deep misunderstandings in the relationship. In an attempt to not hurt their partner and/or lose the relationship, couples literally make choices that ultimately undermine the relationship. PACT is exceptional at creating clarity surrounding attachment styles, giving partners valuable expertise and insight into themselves and each other.
Affect regulation is the ability to use tone of voice, volume, and body language to rapidly shift how your partner feels. Often, couples under-utilize these options, missing opportunities to be a resource to each other and to alleviate each other’s stress. The ability to be effective in this area builds partnership and confidence in the partnership. PACT trains couples to be instrumental in each other’s well being, both in micro and macro interactions and situations.
How is PACT different?
- Couples face each other during the entire session so they benefit from the validation of reading each other’s nonverbal cues and understanding where they typically misread each other.
- Sessions are never shorter than 2 hours so that there is enough time to tackle subjects thoroughly and make meaningful change.
- The challenging situations out of the office may be reenacted and reinvented not only for more accurate memory retrieval but also so that interventions enter the brain where they are actually needed should future situations arise.
- Therapist acts as coaches or wise advisors, challenging the couple, as well as anticipating and diffusing problems prior to their occurrence.
- Couples develop a web of agreements that act as a safety net for each other and their relationship.
- Couples develop skills to manage each other’s most difficult emotions.
- Couples learn how to fight fair and be resourceful to each other, even under the most difficult circumstances.
- Sessions may be videotaped for training purposes, just like professional athletes when reviewing their game performance, in order to refine their relationship skills.
Why Curis Functional Health for PACT?
At Curis, we consider PACT to be one of the stylistic pillars of our clinical approach for individual, couples, and family therapy. Since we are born, live, and die in relationships, understanding the building blocks for creating relational safety are of utmost importance.
Often these skills, even when applied to individual sessions, demystify troubling relationship patterns, offer valuable growth insight, and are deeply validating and healing. In the DFW Metroplex, we offer the highest concentration of PACT clinicians of any clinic. Our Clinical Director of Psychology, Debbie Campbell, LMFT, is the only Level 3 clinician in the DFW area, and one of less that 100 in the world.