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Effects of Trauma on Relationships: A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy

  • Smith College Conference Center 49 College Lane Northampton, MA USA (map)
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2-Day Training with Dr. Stan Tatkin of the PACT Institute

$275 for Early Registration (before July 31st)
$295 for Regular Registration (August 1st and after)

Professional Development Hours: 12 CE's

About the Training

It should come as no surprise that trauma presentations in couple therapy are as common as complaints about “communication” and “intimacy.” Furthermore, evidence of trauma is often cloaked from the therapist, even when elicited by interview. Small “t” threats (i.e., threats of a nonviolent, non-life-threatening nature, much like small “t” trauma) in romantic relationships remain largely unexamined in the field, even as they are a ubiquitous problem in adult primary attachment relationships. Small “t” threat is evident in day-to-day interactions between partners in the form of threatening facial expressions, body gestures and movements, and vocal prosody, as well as threatening words and phrases. Small “t” threat is part of the human condition, and we can better understand it through the study of developmental neurobiology, memory, lightning-fast recognition systems, attachment organization, and arousal regulation issues.

This two-day presentation focuses on psychobiological conditions that can lead to the emergence of threat in any romantic partnership. Through clinical video examples, demonstrations, and lectures, we cover how small “t” threat presents and how to prevent it from accruing and becoming a biological or systemic problem. We will also cover relational trauma and complex PTSD, and how small “t” threat combines with and amplifies small “t” trauma in couple therapy. Attendees will learn various interventions for dealing with trauma in partners, as well as how to intervene with acting-out couples.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • List at least five characteristics of a secure-functioning relationship

  • Apply at least three interventions for moving couples toward secure functioning

  • Describe small “t” threat and identify it in session

  • Use at least three interview techniques for getting accurate information from each partner

  • Use at least three interventions for working with trauma victims in couple therapy

  • Employ therapist self-regulation techniques for remaining relaxed and alert when working with highly dysregulated couples

  • Describe brain areas involved in threat detection and appraisal

  • Describe brain areas involved in social-emotional acuity

  • Describe and define attachment organizations and their contribution to threat sensitivity

  • Describe and define arousal states commonly involved in threat behavior and response

  • Define and identify acting-out behaviors and a lack of therapeutic alliance

  • Use at least three interventions for dealing with acting-out behaviors

About Dr. Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT

Dr. Stan Tatkin is a clinician, researcher, teacher, and developer of A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy® (PACT). He has a clinical practice in Calabasas, CA, where he has specialized for the last 18 years in working with couples and individuals who wish to be in relationships. He and his wife, Tracey Boldemann-Tatkin, developed the PACT Institute for the purpose of training other psychotherapists to use this method in their clinical practice.

In addition, Dr Tatkin teaches and supervises first- through third-year family medicine residents at Kaiser Permanente, Woodland Hills, CA, and is an assistant clinical professor at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine. He is on the board of directors of Lifespan Learning Institute and serves as a core member on Relationships First, a nonprofit organization founded by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt.



9:00—10:00     Introduction to PACT

10:00—11:00    Human Error Potentials

11:00—11:15    Break

11:15—12:15    Attachment       

12:15—1:15      Lunch

1:15—2:00       Nervous System Regulation

2:00—3:00      Trauma and the Brain

3:00—3:15       Break

3:15—4:00       Neuroscience of Doing the Right Thing

4:00—5:00      Basic PACT Interviewing Skills



9:00—10:00    Reading Faces and Deception

10:00—11:00   Trauma, Disorganization, and Personality Disorders

11:00—11:15    Break

11:15—12:15    Working with Trauma   

12:15—1:15       Lunch

1:15—2:00       Working with Personality Disorders

2:00—3:00       Advanced Interventions

3:00—3:15       Break

3:15—4:00       Staging

4:00—5:00      Case Consultation (role plays)

Dr. Tatkin's Published Works

We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love (published by Sounds True)

Relationship Rescue (published by Sounds True)

Relationship Rx (published by Sounds True)

Wired for Dating: How Understanding Neurobiology and Attachment Style Can Help You Find Your Ideal Mate (published by New Harbinger)

Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship (published by New Harbinger)

Your Brain on Love: The Neurobiology of Healthy Relationships (published by Sounds True)

Love and War in Intimate Relationships: Connection, Disconnection, and Mutual Regulation in Couple Therapy (with co-author Marion Solomon, available through W. W. Norton’s Interpersonal Neurobiology Series)

Level: Beginning Level, Intermediate Level, Advanced Level.

Accommodations for the Differently Abled:

NCCT training facilities are handicap accessible. Individuals needing special accommodations, please contact Kerry at:

Continuing Education Credit:
Continuing Education Credit is provided by Commonwealth Educational Seminars for the following professions:

Commonwealth Educational Seminars is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Commonwealth Educational Seminars
maintains responsibility for this program and its content. 

Licensed Professional Counselors/Licensed Mental Health Counselors: Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is entitled to award continuing education credit for Licensed Professional Counselors/Licensed Mental Health Counselors. Please visit CES CE CREDIT to see all states that are covered for LPCs/LMHCs. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content. 

Social Workers:

Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is entitled to award continuing education credit for Social Workers. Please visit CES CE CREDIT to see all states that are covered for Social Workers. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content. 

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists:

Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is entitled to award continuing education credit for Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists. Please visit CES CE CREDIT to see all states that are covered for LMFTs. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content. 


As an American Psychological Association (APA) approved provider, CES programs are accepted by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). These courses can be utilized by nurses to renew their certification and will be accepted by the ANCC. Every state Board of
Nursing accepts ANCC approved programs except California and Iowa, however CES is also an approved Continuing Education provider by the California Board of Registered Nursing (Provider # CEP15567) which is also accepted by the Iowa Board of Nursing. 

It is the participant's responsibility to check with their individual state boards to verify CE requirements for their state. 

Grievance Policy:

Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) seeks to ensure equitable treatment of every person and to make every attempt to resolve grievances in a fair manner. Please submit a written grievance to: your name, email, and phone. Grievances would receive, to the best of our ability, corrective action in order to prevent further problems.


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