PACT Couples Therapy

Relationships Are Difficult – But why?

Dr. Stan Tatkin addressed this important question at his TedX talk in Kansas City; click here  to view his video.



PACT stands for Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy. Developed by Stan Tatkin, PACT employs major advances in psychology and neuroscience to the challenge of repairing and maintaining relationships, with a goal of making each relationship secure for both partners.

Three main areas of psychological advancement inform PACT work:

Attachment—the ways that partners learned, in their earliest relationships, to relate to their important attachment partners…and how continuation of those patterns play out in current relationships

Arousal regulation—each partner’s nervous system responds to their partner’s words and actions, causing “arousal” impulses to flee, fight, or collapse…and partners can help each other to stay within a secure, balanced emotional state

Neuroscience—our brains, as complex as they may be, are becoming much better understood…and that helps therapists and partners to witness interpersonal reactions and to shape them into more secure patterns


PACT Therapists

Dr. Tatkin and the PACT Institute conduct rigorous training for PACT therapists. There are three levels of instruction and preliminary practice, then practice and evaluation of clinical skills, and finally formal certification as a PACT therapist. Dr. Beth O’Brien completed Level III, the highest level of PACT training. Click here (enter a Fort Collins zip code, 80521 will do, and search) to see my directory listing at the Pact Institute.


How is PACT therapy different?

The PACT therapist is trained to observe fleeting reactions that couples have to each other’s words and actions, and from these to develop an understanding of how the partners’ nervous systems are responding to one another, based on attachment patterns and individual brain functioning. Couples in PACT therapy learn to see these patterns themselves and to shape their actions to keep both partners secure.


Secure functioning relationships

Dr. Tatkin is an advocate of secure functioning relationships based on mutual benefit (good for you and good for me), fairness, justice, and mutual attentiveness.


Read more

Dr. O’Brien has written an article for the PACT blog: Renewing Love at a Wired for Love Retreat.

The Books tab on the PACT Institute web site lists the print and audio books that Dr. Tatkin has published. These are not substitutes for PACT therapy, but by themselves can be helpful to couples.