Stan Tatkin's Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT) is the basis of my work with couples. This approach uses a capacity model, which is distinctly different from the many models built on psychopathology.
Capacity Model: Conflict Model:
1) Process Oriented 1) Content Oriented
2) Psychobiological 2) Situational
3) Attachment Organization Based 3) Personality Based
4) Additive 4) Subtractive
5) Creative, Win-Win 5) Win-Lose
What Is the Basis of PACT?
PACT was developed out of exciting, cutting-edge research in three areas. The first is neuroscience, the study of the human brain. Understanding how the brain works provides a physiological basis for understanding how people act and react within relationships. In a nutshell, some areas of your brain are wired to reduce threat and danger and seek security, while others are geared to establish mutuality and loving connection. The second is attachment theory, which explains the biological need to bond with others. Experiences in early relationships create a blueprint that informs the sense of safety and security you bring to adult relationships. Insecurities that have been carried through life can wreak havoc for a couple if these issues are not resolved. The third area is the biology of human arousal — meaning the moment-to moment ability to manage one’s energy, alertness, and readiness to engage.
How Does PACT Help?
It isn’t necessary to understand the scientific basis of PACT to realize its benefits. I use the foundational PACT principles to guide you in overcoming challenges you face as a couple. In our work you will discover how to:
• keep each other safe and secure
• put the security-seeking parts of your brain at ease
• manage each other’s highs and lows
• please and soothe and inspire each other to stay connected
• fight well
• rekindle your love at any time
• minimize each other’s stress and optimize each other’s health
What Does a PACT Session Look Like?
Your experience during a PACT session may differ somewhat from what you would experience in other forms of couple therapy. Key features of this approach include:
• I will focus on moment-to-moment shifts in face, body, and voice, and ask you to pay close attention to these as a couple.
• I will create experiences similar to those troubling your relationship and help you work through them in real time during the session.
• PACT tends to require fewer sessions than do other forms of couple therapy.
• PACT sessions often exceed the 50-min hour and may last as long as 3 hours, or longer if requested. Longer times allow for the in-depth work of PACT.
• I may videotape sessions to provide immediate feedback to you.
What Kinds of Problems Does PACT Help?
PACT is designed to help couples with any and all problems for which you might seek professional help from a therapist. It is especially helpful for couples considering marriage and couples seeking to preserve a relationship in danger of divorce or dissolution.