Confessions of a Late Bloomer

True confessions: I never really wanted to be a couple
therapist. I tell people that I was a late bloomer when it comes to couple
therapy. It’s more accurate to say I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into
the world of couple therapy by my friend, Krista.

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I always found the idea
of couple therapy quite appealing. Ride in on a white horse, save a marriage…
what’s not to like about that? Imagine, helping two people find each other
again, re-kindling lost love, yada, yada, yada. Pretty powerful stuff. The reality of couple therapy, on the other
hand, scared the tuna salad out of me. What do you do when they start yelling
at each other? What if they really don’t like each other? What if, God forbid,
they really don’t like me?  My conflict avoidant side wanted to avoid all
of those possibilities. I like people to like me. I like people to like each
other. I really like it when we can
all just get along. Since that doesn’t always happen in couple therapy I wanted
no part of it.

She kept telling me I should come to one of Stan’s trainings and I kept telling her that I really, really, really didn’t want to do couple therapy.

Then along came Krista, who also never really wanted to be a
couple therapist (there, I just outed her). Krista kept coming to the office
yammering on about the study group she was doing with Stan Tatkin. She talked
about Stan this and Stan that and how much she was learning from him. Krista
had decided that Stan’s model of couple therapy might actually work and that
maybe doing couple therapy wasn’t so scary after all. She kept telling me I should come to one of Stan’s
trainings and I kept telling her that
I really, really, really didn’t want to do couple therapy. However, the promise
that my work as an individual therapist would benefit from Stan’s training
convinced me, and I caved.

That was five years ago, and Krista was right. Like super,
duper right. To say that my work as an individual therapist is informed by
Stan’s model (a Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy, or PACT), would be
like saying that Freud kind of influenced psychoanalysis.

Like most humans, therapists grow and change over time in
our professional development. Sometimes that growth occurs gradually, as we
mature or explore new models. Other times the growth is like an evolutionary
leap and our work undergoes a dramatic shift. I’ve had the fortune of
experiencing several evolutionary leaps in my career. Learning the PACT model
has certainly been one of them. When I started using the PACT lens to look at
my individual clients’ interpersonal relationships something changed. I gained
a deeper understanding of the dynamics and flow between my clients and the
others in their lives. I use the principles of PACT and the criteria for a
secure functioning relationship, such as working in a two-person system, to
help clients understand some of the dynamics of their relationships. These
principles apply not only to romantic partnerships, but to all relationships,
including parent-child relationships, sibling relationships, and relationships
between co-workers.

Yes, I stayed in a couple therapy training for two years, with no intention of ever seeing couples

It took two years of studying with Stan before I finally
decided to start seeing couples. Yes, I stayed in a couple therapy training for
two years, with no intention of ever seeing couples, simply because it helped
my work as an individual therapist. Crazy, huh? Here’s something even crazier:
I love seeing couples. Truly, truly, I love doing couple therapy. Even when
they yell at each other. Even when they don’t really like each other. Even when
they don’t really like me (well, that one not so much). Who knew? Well, I guess
Krista knew. And Stan.

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