I am trained in and practice PACT (a Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy) at my Boulder psychotherapy office. I want my clients to understand why this approach to counseling for couples, developed by Dr. Stan Tatkin (stantatkin.com) is so powerful and effective. PACT works with the deepest, most instinctual levels of the human experience. It gets underneath the surface layer of your relationship problems and targets the root issues, right from the very first couples counseling session. It is a sophisticated, comprehensive and precise way of delivering the results you want for your relationship. It is a particularly fast-acting approach to relationship therapy because it was developed out of cutting-edge research in three areas:
Attachment Theory deals with our biological need to bond with others. We refer to a couple’s relationship as a “primary attachment relationship.” A couple’s relationship with one another is deeply patterned by their respective relationships with their parents during childhood. This is where our adult relationship problems are rooted. How your parents behaved in their relationships with you when you were young has an undeniable effect on how you relate in your adult relationship. This is because your earliest experiences in relationship form a blueprint for your sense of safety and security that you bring to your adult relationships. Insecurities resulting from negative relational experiences with your parents as children are carried through life and can create marriage problems for couples. As a marriage and family therapist in Boulder, these are exactly the types of issues I can help you resolve in couples therapy.
Attachment theory helps you understand your particular “attachment style,” or manner in which you bond with another human being. This style has to do with how you move toward and away from your partner and how your reflexes function when you are under stress. If you come from a family that didn’t value relationships, you can feel insecure in your adult relationship, prompting you to seek marriage help. This insecurity can either create a tendency to be clingy and overly focused on your partner, or a tendency to want to distance yourself from your partner. Either way, these behaviors can create marital problems that can benefit from marriage therapy. These are the types of marriage problems I see in my Boulder-based practice every day. Your attachment style gets hardwired in infancy, so it’s important to know that couples therapy is not about trying to change your attachment style or that of your partner. Couples therapy is about understanding each other fully so you can learn how to support and connect with each other in the best way possible.
Neuroscience, the study of the human brain, helps us understand the different parts of the brain that are at play in our intimate relationships to ensure that partners stay connected and avoid relationship problems. Here is how I explain neuroscience to couples at my Boulder couples therapy practice: We have two basic parts to our brain which we call “primitives” and “ambassadors.” The primitives are the security-seeking parts of our brain. They were the first parts of our brain to develop in the course of human evolution and are always on the lookout for anything that might be perceived as threatening to our continued existence.
These parts of our brain are wired to reduce danger and can create marriage problems when we don’t know how to manage them. The ambassadors are the higher parts of our brain that are capable of establishing mutuality and a loving connection with another person. One of the most important things you are going to learn in your couples counseling at my Boulder practice is how to put the primitive, security-seeking parts of your brain at ease, so your higher brain can come forward and engage lovingly in relationship.
Nervous System Arousal Regulation
Nervous System Arousal Regulation deals with your moment-to-moment ability to manage your energy, alertness and readiness to engage with another person. (It is not about sexual arousal.) Your energy is regulated by your autonomic nervous system which is not within your conscious control, but rather functions automatically. Your nervous system is a bit like a thermostat that rises and falls. When you come to me for marriage counseling at my warm, welcoming Boulder office, I can teach you how you and your partner’s nervous systems work so you can learn how to manage each other’s highs and lows.
When you and your partner do not know how to create a sense of safety and security in your relationship, you can have a hard time managing your energy. You may find that marital problems arise when you tend to get angry, terrified, or even manic on the high end of the energy spectrum, or you may find yourself depressed, immobilized or shameful on the low end of the energy spectrum. When you feel threatened by your partner in some way, it can send your autonomic nervous system into a state of imbalance from which it can be difficult to recover. Through couples therapy at my Boulder location, I help you and your partner learn how to diffuse threat in your relationship, solve your relationship problems and return one another to an optimal energy balance.
The first PACT couples therapy session is always three hours in length. This allows for an in-depth assessment of all aspects of your relationship, and ensures that you leave the first session with renewed hope for you as a couple. By the end of the first couples counseling session in Boulder, we will have a clear treatment plan to help you achieve your relationship goals. I will be able to share with you exactly how the couples therapy will help you solve your specific marriage problems and move forward. When you leave my Boulder office, you will start to notice positive changes in your relationship right from the very first session of couples counseling.
PACT tends to require fewer sessions than do other forms of couples therapy.
Because couples therapy is both an art and a science and there is so much to know about it, I specialize in it. As a marriage and family therapist in Boulder, I have seven years of couples therapy-specific training and a proven track record for over a decade of helping couples solve their marriage problems, get out of trouble and restore love and harmony.