PACT: Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy

PACT (Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy) is a type of couples therapy that quickly gets to the heart of what’s happening with conflict and tension in your relationship.

What is PACT?

Imagine an issue you have with your partner. You are so darn MAD about it and you don’t even know WHY you’re so mad about it and you can’t get them to understand. PACT (Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy) is a type of couples therapy that quickly gets to the heart of what’s happening with conflict and tension in your relationship.

PACT works by cutting out a lot of the confusing talking and arguing about who’s right and how to fix a given problem. Instead, it looks at what’s really happening in your brain and your emotions when you fight. If you were in a couples therapy session and you were stuck, your therapist might slow you down (we all know how sped up and out of control it can get when you’re in conflict) and help point out what’s happening with your body and your emotions.

Perhaps you have a huge frown on your face and your arms are crossed. There is a ton of emotion there, trying to be expressed, begging to be heard and understood. PACT helps each partner truly see the other person–their hurt, their sadness, their longing. When you feel seen and understood, so much of your frustration can melt away–and solutions may even present themselves.

Here are some of the principles that underline the PACT method:

1. Attachment

We are all looking to feel loved and cared for. We want to be made a priority, to feel secure and special to our partner. The therapist will help you learn how to create a securely attached relationship. In such a relationship couples know how to take care of each other, to guess each other’s thoughts and feelings, to respond to their partner’s distress and attempts at closeness, and to have each other’s back.

2. Regulation

When we get too emotional, we act out of our survival instincts, so we can’t really understand each other and empathize. The therapist will help you manage your feelings so you stay within a range that is manageable and you can actually listen to and understand each other.

3. Automatic Responses

Since being close to our partner is so crucial for all of us, we usually respond to cues from them with a fast, automatic, knee-jerk reaction–such as changing our tone or subtly becoming more distant. Most of the time we don’t even know we do this, but our partner is still unconsciously affected in a huge way. Learning to recognize your automatic reactions, and what they mean for yourself and your partner is a big step towards a more connected, satisfying relationship.

Here’s what you can expect in a PACT session

  • Your therapist will focus on moment-to-moment shifts in your face, body, and voice, and ask you to pay close attention to these as a couple.
  • Your therapist will create experiences similar to those troubling your relationship and help you work through them in real time during the session.
  • PACT tends to require fewer sessions than do other forms of couple therapy.
  • PACT sessions often exceed the 50-min hour. Longer times allow for the in-depth work of PACT.
  • Your therapist may videotape sessions to provide immediate feedback to you.

If PACT appeals to you, Gal Szekely offers private couples retreats to work in an in-depth way on your relationship.


Founder of The Couples Center, Gal has a warm and practical approach that recognizes and honors the best in every person. Gal’s relationship with his wife is the source of inspiration for his commitment to helping couples create thriving relationships. Going through their relationship struggles made him realize how a committed relationship is the most important vehicle for one’s personal growth. Gal has a lifelong dedication to learning and growth and is trained in many different.