Couple therapists must be able to organize each session in such a way that allows for measuring progress in their treatment plan. One such way is to think of placing the couple and therapist in discreet “containers” or exercises that stress the couple. These exercises, tasks, or games allow the therapist to test and retest hypotheses, test a particular capacity, or otherwise allow the therapist to view couple performance in real time. These containers include a task, timing, and possible roles casted by the therapist and may include a role the therapist must also play. An example might be a psychodrama whereby partners must replay a recent event – step by step – as the therapist, as investigator, gets the facts. Or another container might involve a deal breaker issue whereby partners are required to persuade each other out of a deal breaker while the therapist plays the role of mediating only the manner in which partners argue their points.
1. To be able to accurately describe the meaning and purpose of containers in couple therapy.
2. To be able to apply the use of containers for assessment and intervention purposes.
3. To be able to identify implicit and explicit behavioral leakages through partner somatic reactions while under stress.
Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, 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 15 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.