PACT (Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy)
Have you ever been in an intense moment with your partner and you don’t even understand how you got there? When we are confronted about something or when something ticks us off, our prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hypothalamus get stimulated and hormones are released. This all happens in our brain but we can feel the effects of it in our own physical bodies. These bursts of hormones can lead to saying something to our partner that we may later regret. PACT or Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy, created by Dr. Stan Tatkin, can help us to resolve conflict in a healthy manner within our “couple bubble,” which allows us to feel safe and secure. It focuses on arousal regulation, attachment theory, and developmental neuroscience. Arousal regulation is the way in which our bodies respond and manage emotions and moods, attachment theory is the explanation of how each individual relates and forms relationships with others, and developmental neuroscience is how our brains respond to our environments and how this changes over time. All of these play a huge role in relationships and if we are not corrected and taught how to “fight fair,” then our relationships can become messy. During PACT sessions, the couple is encouraged to recreate an experience that was difficult for them to get through and notice the way that their partner responds. If a couple happens to get “stuck” during a session, we will help to point out the solution to getting past the problem. Pointing out when the emotions started rising can help the couple to be aware of these shifts in their partner in future conflicts. PACT helps couples to understand where the other is coming from without putting stress on their relationship. It is not about who is right and who is wrong, because in the end it does not matter. Think about the relationship as a team and the priority is the relationship, not yourself and not who is right.