Stan Tatkin, author of Wired for Love and founder of PACT, likens his couples therapy approach to jazz dancing; it’s structured, but very lively and playful. Some may prefer to think of PACT as a “contact sport,” while more traditional couples therapies a “pre or post-game interview.” Regardless of how you look at it, the PACT principles reach beyond talking about problems.
What is the PACT Couples Therapy Approach?
PACT actually stands for the PsychoBiological Approach to Couples Therapy, because as a PACT therapist, I’m working with couples on a psychological level as well as a biological one. PACT integrates the latest research on how our brain, our attachment style, and our physiological arousal interplay to make or break our sense of security in our relationship. It’s truly a mind-body holistic approach to healing and growth.
What sets the PACT approach apart, and how can it transform your relationship? Check out four components of the therapy below.
P– Prolonged Sessions
PACT couples therapy takes an intensive approach. The initial session lasts 2.5 hours, with two subsequent sessions, each lasting ninety minutes. With longer sessions, couples are able to share their histories, goals and needs, while developing a heightened sense of attunement to their partner.
In some ways, the PACT approach feels more like a “relationship building” retreat or couples workshop, rather than a weekly one hour appointment.
In traditional couple therapy sessions, partners often re-hash their dissatisfaction with each other and point out voids in the relationship. The only problem with this approach is that couples often can’t quite “put their finger” on what specifically bothers them and thus have difficulty communicating their distress to their partner.
Instead of a “tell me” therapy, PACT is known as the “show me” therapy, because we do more than talk. We stage tough situations and I provide feedback in “real time.” When couples re-enact their stories, we can make much deeper changes at a visceral, physical level. PACT couples therapist, Susan Orenstein, guides couples, helping them explore new ways of communicating in order to reduce each other’s distress and better understand each other.
Though therapy sessions often bring to mind the iconic image of a couch, this style of furniture isn’t always ideal for couples counseling. When couples sit on a couch, they face their counselor. PACT couples therapy is about securing the relationship between you and your partner and to do so, you need to turn towards him or her. Our chairs tilt, swivel and roll, so that couples can engage in dynamic interaction that compliments emotional work.
T- Taped Sessions
With a couple’s consent, I film certain exercises or entire sessions. Why? Body language matters. There are subtle cues we signal during conflict and connection that we aren’t aware of. Playing back you and your partner’s interactions can help highlight blindspots and broaden opportunities for positive outcomes.
You can read more about Dr. Susan Orenstein’s PACT couples therapy approach here.
On the fence about whether PACT is right for you and your partner? Schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with Dr. Orenstein to make sure she’s a good fit.
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