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Developing the Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy with Dr. Stan Tatkin – Episode 56

Developing the Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy

Show Notes

Dr. Stan Tatkin is a psychotherapist who works with couples. He and his wife founded the PACT Institute (Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy), which treats couples and trains therapists in the psychobiological approach to conflict resolution. Dr. Tatkin also leads couples’ retreats, teaches at a CA state university, writes books, and speaks at conferences. In this episode of Businesses in Bloom, Stan explains how he came to be fascinated by couples therapy, and how he’s built a successful career around it.

Interview Highlights

[2:23]  Stan grew up in a showbiz family and played the drums from age 6 to 23.  He played in a jazz band for a while. After leaving drumming behind, a friend pointed Stan towards psychotherapy. He returned to school to get his license, and never looked back.

[4:20]  Stan says he started seeing clients as a trainee before he was licensed. Stan worked with John Bradshaw at the Bradshaw center before his licensure.

[8:40]  Psychobiology is a poly-theoretical, nonlinear approach to psychotherapy—this means several ideas are melded into one approach. It takes a few years to learn this technique, which looks at three areas: attachment theory, developmental neuroscience, and arousal regulation. PACT studies facial expressions, body language, and the movements couples make in therapy.

[10:18]  Stan describes a typical couples session. Everyone sits on mobile chairs, so they can see every angle of each other. All sessions are videotaped. The videotapes are sometimes played back to teach couples how their expressions lead to, or prolong conflict. Words lie, Stan explains, so he looks for information in other realms.

[19:07]  Stan works with 10 other people in his core faculty. They’re fine-tuning their model to make it more effective. They always look for proof, and don’t move forward without it. It’s a rigorous assessment process.

[20:30]  Stan explains how his center works—it has no brick and mortar home. There’s a certification process, which will be rolled out next year. Some of his associates have been training for 4-5 years, progressing through levels.

[22:00]  Stan’s wife runs the institute. It’s complicated, there are legal issues; they can’t put anyone on their referral website unless the person is licensed, for instance.

[23:20]  Stan’s mentors family medicine residents at a hospital as part of his professorship. He supervises them, trying to improve the doctor-patient relationship. The residents learn to become more responsible family medicine doctors.

[25:20]  Stan has a full private practice, travels to hold couples’ retreats, and writes.

[26:06]  Stan talks about his books. His first book was more for therapists, while his later books were aimed at a general audience. He’s working on two more audiobooks right now. He also wrote a training manual on the PACT approach, and will probably write a book on it eventually.

[28:17]  Stan discusses his book, “Wired for Dating,” which tries to correct some myths about love and marriage while directing people towards secure functioning relationships.

[29:29]  Teaching and holding retreats are good platforms for promoting his books. Stan’s business has grown greatly in the last few years, and he’s had to separate his couples work and retreats from his trainings for therapists.

[32:00]  Stan talks about how technology has changed dating. “Ghosting” is one example of hurtful behavior facilitated by dating apps.

[33:37]  Stan just did an interview for Vanity Fair about “cuffing,” when people date someone just for the holidays so they’re not alone at family events (and for comfort in the winter), then dump them right after.

[34:50]  Not specializing is a mistake some couple therapists make. Couples therapy has to be a specialty because working with two people is different than with 1 or 3 people.

[38:20]  Stan says that in couples therapy, the therapist has to be active and strategic, not laid-back.

[39:17]  If you understand how couples work, Stan says, you’ll see that it is not likely one person is wholly the problem. Except in the case of addictions and hardware problems in the social-emotional realm (like if one partner has undiagnosed Asperger’s).

BIO – Dr. Stan Tatkin, Calabasas, CA

Dr. Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, is a couple therapist known for his pioneering work in helping partners form happy, secure, and long-lasting relationships. His method—called PACT (Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy®)—draws on principles of neuroscience and teaches partners to become what he terms “secure-functioning.”

Together with his wife, Tracey Boldemann-Tatkin, Ph.D, Dr. Tatkin founded the PACT Institute to train psychotherapists and other professionals how to incorporate his method into their practices with couples. Therapists from all over the world are being trained in this breakthrough approach.

Dr. Tatkin has a private practice in Calabasas, CA, and is an assistant professor at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine. He is the author of several books, including the bestselling WIRED FOR LOVE and WIRED FOR DATING published by New Harbinger. You can find out more about Dr. Tatkin and his work at: http://stantatkin.com/.

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Replays of past episodes can be found here.

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