If Therapy Is Medicine, How Do We Prevent Overdose?

for therapists May 13, 2024

By Allison Howe, LMHC
PACT Certified Clinician, PACT Faculty

Couples come to our office in distress. They want to feel better. For me, PACT therapy provides medicine for the couple. PACT is an approach designed to alleviate the symptoms that come from an insecure, unfair, insensitive relationship that isn’t operating in a way that works for both partners.

If we define therapy as “medicine,” we need to understand its constitution. What are its active ingredients? How is dosage determined? What does an overdose look like?

Have you ever overdosed a couple? I have. I know what that looks like, and I now know how to avoid it.

Therapy as Medicine

If medicine is “the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease” (Merriam-Webster.com), then to me, PACT therapy is medicine.

PACT has the potency – not as a chemical substance but as a medicinal approach – that restores and preserves the...

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Using Countertransference to Deepen the Therapeutic Alliance

for therapists Feb 12, 2024

By Daniel Scrafford
PACT Level 3 Therapist

In my early professional years, I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?

— Carl R. Rogers

Carl Rogers’ quote describes how he saw the therapeutic alliance in individual therapy. A therapist needs to develop an alliance with clients to ensure a successful outcome in therapy (Stubbe, 2019). Rogers’ brilliance is reflected in his theory, his techniques, and his ability to emotionally resonate with the client. In relationship therapy, the therapeutic alliance is made up of several facets. Both partners must believe the therapist is competent, the therapist is an expert in addressing their problem area, and the therapist has the capacity to empathize and resonate with the client’s emotional field. 

This paper will explore how therapists can use their...

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Congratulations, New PACT Certified Therapists!

for therapists Dec 04, 2023

This month, we’re celebrating a new cohort to have earned the distinct title of PACT Certified Therapist. These therapists completed the highest level of PACT training this year, and you may see them teaching classes, offering consultation, or sharing PACT research projects.

We asked them why they wanted to become PACT Certified, what the process was like for them, if they have any advice for others considering certification, and a couple of questions just for fun! Learn a little more about each of them.

Jason Brand, LCSW

Berkeley, California

“The main reason that I decided to become PACT Certified is because of the PACT community. PACT really is my therapy-home, and I love getting opportunities to spend time with my colleagues and friends. The work of being a therapist is so private, and the work we do with couples is pretty specific, so I will jump at any chance to sit down with a group of people who really understand the PACT model.”

“I have put in lots of...

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Gratitude, Not Platitudes

for therapists Nov 10, 2023

As PACT founder Stan Tatkin says, “A daily gratitude practice is a happiness practice.”

And the cultivation of gratitude in your own life can serve as a potent tool to enhance your clients' emotional well-being — and your own.

More than just a platitude, gratitude has the transformative ability to rewire our brains, foster our resilience, and instill in each of us a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment.

We asked some PACT faculty members how they cultivate gratitude in their own lives. They generously shared their insights about the field and a few about themselves. Enjoy! And thank you for being a part of the PACT community.

Eda Arduman, MA, Clinical Psychologist, PACT Faculty
Q. What’s one thing that made you smile recently?

A. We had been unsuccessfully trying to schedule time with some dear friends. Then last Saturday night, my husband and I decided to get some ice cream, and at 10pm we came across our friends in the middle of Principe Street in Lisbon. We all walked toward each...

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PACT Clinicians Share How They Avoid Burnout

for therapists Oct 10, 2023

In place of a blog article this month, we’re sharing a question that a PACT community member posted in the Google Group recently, along with several responses. Both the question and the responses were thoughtful and authentic, and we wanted our larger PACT community to have the benefit of reading them. 

The question of how to maintain enthusiasm for your work as a therapist and avoid burnout is an important one, and we hope some of these responses will resonate with you. 

Also, if you’re a PACT-trained therapist and you’re not yet a member of the PACT Google Group, request to join today! You’ll find valuable information and become part of a vibrant community of dedicated PACT therapists seeking to do their best work. 

Question: How Do PACT Couple Therapists Find Grounding and Maintain Enthusiasm for the Work?

I am a new therapist. I graduated last summer and got off the ground in a private group super quickly. All throughout my practicum and...

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Interdependence: Transcending Dependence and Independence in Couples

for therapists Sep 08, 2023

By Doris Montalvo Moll
Clinical Psychologist
PACT Level 3 Therapist


This work stems from a concern of mine, an initially unarticulated feeling that I have had for some time. This feeling arose during both clinical and nonclinical situations in which I heard statements, such as "I am too dependent," "I have problems with my partner that should not affect me so much," "I do not intend to depend on anyone,” "You should not make your decisions thinking about someone else." I’ve usually heard women say these kinds of things.

Since I am a PACT therapist, my vision of the couple relationship has to do with the idea of interdependence, or mutual dependence. However this concept is complicated at a theoretical level. It has different meanings that are not always related to what we understand from the PACT perspective. In addition, interdependence is not a concept known or used by the general population. 

Therefore, the purpose I have in writing this paper is to explore...

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Evolving PACT Through Deepening Understanding of Personality Disorders

for therapists Aug 03, 2023

By Nicole McGuffin, PsyD, LPC, BCN
PACT Level 3 Therapist

There is confusion about personality disorders. According to the DSM-5 (APA, 2013) a list of pathological symptoms and traits categorize a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The DSM-5 narrowly classifies this group of people by grandiosity, needing admiration, having entitlement, and lacking empathy. These traits are critical in the understanding of NPD. However, this route struggles to capture issues of self and affect regulation including feeling inferior, low self-esteem, vulnerability and inferiority, emptiness, fearing boredom, emotional distress, affective reactivity, and rage (Caligor & Stern, 2020). 

Section III of the DSM-5 (2013) introduces The Alternative Model for Personality Disorders (AMPD). Its requirements include both personality functioning impairments and pathological trait elevation. It covers a broader range and is more inclusive of characteristic difficulties in identity,...

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How Individual Therapists Can Accidentally Harm Relationships

for therapists Jul 10, 2023

By: Jess Cleeves, MAT, LCSW

PACT Level 2

It’s inevitable. If you see individual clients, you will work with someone who is struggling in their primary partnership. While we’re prepared to support an individual’s healing process, we have a profession-wide blind spot; few of us are trained to ethically and effectively support individuals whose clinical concerns are partnership-related. In fact, our superpowers in treating individuals may end up acting as the couple’s kryptonite. 


Relationships Show Up in Individual Therapy

Our training and daily interactions as individual therapists constantly hone our abilities to empathize and validate our clients. We commit to believing that our clients’ experiences are, indeed, their experiences. While we also push our clients to evaluate their experiences toward their own growth and transformation, doing so when the client’s focus is their romantic relationship poses a particular challenge; we can...

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The Therapeutic Use of Horses as Adjunctive Experience to PACT Couple Therapy: Exploring Couples’ Capacity for Collaboration and Attunement

for therapists Jun 07, 2023

by Catherine Seidel, LMFT
PACT Level 3 Therapist

This paper presents the application of PACT couple therapy principles to a guided couple experience with horses. Four couples were given the same instructions and tasks in two-hour equine-assisted sessions. Several PACT exercises were applied verbatim. Observations and insights gained from the exercises were then applied to the couples’ interaction with the horse. For brevity I will describe a portion of the work with two couples.

Because horse brains have no prefrontal cortex, their behavioral responses reflect their level of interest or disinterest, stress, or attraction to human verbal and nonverbal behavior. Without the human capacity for executive function, a horse’s brain “allocates space to perception, fear, rapid movement and associative learning” (Jones 2020a).

Horses are prey animals that depend on flight as primary means for survival. When humans work with horses, the horse provides an...

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Integration of PACT Couples Therapy with Psychedelic Assisted Therapy: Facilitating Secure-Functioning Relationship

for therapists May 08, 2023

By Olga M. Vera, PhD

PACT Level 3 Therapist

As PACT therapists, we play a significant role in supporting our couples toward secure-functioning relationships. We can also play an essential role in contributing to the growth of psychology, psychedelics, and work with couples. This paper is my observations and insights as a PACT therapist from my work with couples who decided to use MDMA to strengthen their relationship. Many of my clients wanted to see if MDMA could help them identify the barriers that were not allowing them to create a secure-functioning relationship. 

MDMA has been described as the love drug, the heart opener, or the truth pill by various people in the psychedelic community. People who have taken MDMA recreationally reported a sense of openness and connection toward others. Some have described that it gives them the willingness to discuss the topics that scare them, helping them drop defenses and fear. 

Many of my couples experimenting with...

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