The Relationship Therapist

Helping individuals and couples improve relationships by working with each person's unique strengths, goals, personality style, and social context.

Helping individuals and couples improve relationships by working with each person's unique strengths, goals, personality style, and social context.

The PACT Institute

For one thing, there is nothing wrong to cure in any given attachment style.

Attachment styles are the way we organize ourselves around dependency. It’s a way of protecting oneself from harm or hurt based off of memory.

What a secure-functioning relationship can do is help modify these memories and reduce the need to defend oneself from being hurt.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

This is the richness and reward of relationships. There is always more to discover.

Wired for Love Creating an Owner’s Manual for a Secure-Functioning Relationship

Fantastic relationship retreat in May! We don’t come with manuals that facilitate the process of getting along. Learn how to create that manual using proven principles for successful relationships.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Show affection on Valentine’s Day in a way you know they will want, instead of the way *you would want.* We all have different things that make us feel loved and cared for. Become an expert on your partner and discover what does that for them. 😏And then let them in on what makes you feel loved.

With Love from Big Sur: Building the Couple Bubble

Think you might want to go on a relationship retreat? Here's some info! On a rainy Sunday afternoon in May, we wrapped up the Wired for Love Couples Retreat at Esalen in Big Sur, California. I assisted Stan Tatkin and Tracey Boldemann-Tatkin with 30 couples who came to find out how PACT can strengthen their relationship. This scenario illustrates how couples learn to sh...

Dr. Stan Tatkin

When we meet someone we’re attracted to we experience a drop in a neurochemical called serotonin. Serotonin is very good for managing anxiety and obsession.

So, why would we have a drop in serotonin? Well, if I meet you at a party, and you’re one of many people, what’s to keep me from forgetting you after I leave?

The drop in serotonin helps you stand out from the crowd for me. I start to perseverate.
I start to have all those obsessive thoughts:

“Should I call?”

“Will they text back?”

“Did I say the wrong thing?”

I start to think about you away from that first meeting. That gets me to come back to you.

So those feelings of anxiety are a necessary part of pair-bonding. You might feel like you’re going to explode, but that’s all by design. 😉It gets better.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Wisdom from Dr. Stan Tatkin.

Are you hoping for your partner to be more like you?

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Do something new with your partner this week. Novelty can be a great way of sparking vitality in your relationship. Go to a new restaurant, a part of your town you’ve never been to before, or try a new activity together.

We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love

Such an important book for pre-marital couples! “If you and your prospective partner adopt the principles and skills I describe here, your relationship will be successful—not just for starters, but for the long run.” An indispensable guide for any couple ready to set the foundation for a loving and lasting union &nbs...

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Create a morning ritual with your partner. This can be as simple as gazing into each other’s eyes as soon as you wake up or having breakfast together. Doing something together in the morning will help you launch each other into the day feeling secure and connected to each other.

Shared purpose--what is yours?

Do you and your partner have a shared purpose (something that binds you together and keeps you pointed in the same direction)?

Having something that keeps you together besides attraction or your interests is important, because those factors will change over time.

Maybe it’s to promote each other’s happiness, to push each other to be better people, or to protect each other. Talk about this together and figure out what your shared purpose is.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

No one wants to get into arguments, but sometimes they’re necessary. You and your partner are different people. You are bound to disagree at some point.

Fighting won’t make your relationship less secure. In fact, allowing for disagreements to come up and be dealt with will help your relationship feel more secure.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

When we’re angry, our impulse may be to avert eye contact. However, checking in with your partner’s eyes will help you and your partner keep an argument from going off the rails.

By looking at each other in the eyes, you can see how you’re affecting each other and repair injuries you’ve caused more quickly.

#longtermlove #couplegoals

The PACT Institute

The narratives our left hemispheres write are not always accurate to our experiences, and that can be a problem in relationships. PACT faculty member, Hans Jorg Stahlschmidt, Ph.D. explains why.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Remember, when you’re arguing with your partner, you only win if your partner wins too. Try to stay friendly, use humor and relieve your partner if you’ve hurt them in a fight. Wave the flag of friendliness when you fight. 😌🚩

Dr. Stan Tatkin

If you find you and your partner fighting over messiness, you’ll likely be fighting over this for a long time unless you come up with a hack to deal with it. Changing someone from a messy person to a tidy person is difficult. Instead of trying to change your partner, consider either hiring a maid or designating a space for the mess in your home to live.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

If you and your partner are looking for a couple therapist, there are therapists across the country who practice PACT, the method I developed.

PACT sessions are slightly different than traditional approaches. Here are some characteristics that you might not experience in other forms of couple therapy.

Send me a message on here for information on how you can find a PACT therapist near you.

Tips for if you are alone for the holidays...

The holidays can be an especially difficult time, even for those who are usually ok on their own.

If you are single and/or your family is far away, I want to suggest a few things you can do to make the holidays less lonely:

Spend time with your “chosen family.” You’re likely not the only one who will be alone during the holidays. Reach out to your close friends to plan a potluck or holiday gathering together.

Ask for an invitation. Tell your friends that you’re going to be alone on the holidays and ask if you can be a part of whatever they are doing. You can contribute a dish or contribute in whatever way they need.

Volunteer. Helping out at a shelter or soup kitchen will help you feel connected to a community and give you a healthy perspective on all the blessings you do have.

I hope you have a joyful holiday season, no matter who you are spending it with.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Any problems you don’t deal with now will hurt your relationship in the future. The faster you can address issues as a couple, the better off you’ll be. 💗

Dr. Stan Tatkin

When you choose a licensed therapist, you’ll be working with someone who not only completes a masters program and licensing requirements, but also has to complete around 30-36 hours of educational study every couple years.

The hours of continuing education required vary depending on the license (social worker, counselor, psychologist, etc) and the state in which the practice.

The PACT Institute

It's typically not the deficit that's the problem, it's how partners deal with it.

The PACT Institute

When dealing with trauma in a relationship, it's important to remember that it is affecting a memory system that works reflexively. Partners can help each other by making each other aware of potential triggers and pain points.

The PACT Institute

99% of our day is automatic. We don’t use our higher cortical areas much of the time. We use procedural memory instead.

When we first learn to ride a bike, we’re thinking about everything, but after a while, we can do it automatically. The same thing happens in a relationship. Partners are excited and paying close attention to each other in the beginning, but soon automate each other.

Couples make errors and complain about not feeling in love partly because of the automatic brain. They think they know each other. They make appraisals based on history, not just their history together but their history with everyone. They don’t realize that they are acting reflexively.

The antidote is to pay attention. This is why in PACT therapy, we put partners face-to-face and eye-to-eye.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Communication is difficult. We can approximate what’s in another person’s mind, but we can’t understand each other exactly.

That’s why it’s so important to put in the extra effort to make sure you are being understood AND that you are understanding your partner. Slow down and get as clear as you can with each other.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Protect your partner during Thanksgiving. Be careful not to throw them under the bus, side with someone else over your partner, or reveal private information about your partner.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

If you’re looking for a partner, think about the kind of relationship you want to have. What principles do you want to guide your relationship? Once you’re clear on those principles, look for someone who wants that kind of relationship.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

When we’re under stress, our brains can’t manage multiple topics at once. It’s hard enough to do this when we’re calm.

Keep your arguments focused on one topic at a time, so you can actually accomplish a resolution that benefits both of you. Whatever gets brought up first, gets dealt with first.

Mind Spa by Isha Malik

Gaslighting is an abusive tactic aimed to make a person doubt their own thoughts and feelings. The abuse is often subtle at first. For example, if a person is telling a story, the abuser may challenge a small detail. The person may admit they were wrong on a detail, then move on. The next time, the abuser may use that past “victory” to discredit the person further, perhaps by questioning the person’s memory.

The person may argue back at first. They may intuit something is wrong in the relationship or marriage. But because each gaslighting incident is so minor, they can’t pinpoint any specific cause for their unease. Over time, the person may second-guess their own emotions and memories. They may rely on their abuser to tell them if their memory is correct of if their emotions are “reasonable.” The abuser uses this trust to gain control over their target.

Popular culture often depicts gaslighting as a man abusing his wife. Yet people of any gender can gaslight others or be gaslit themselves. Gaslighting can also occur in platonic contexts such as a workplace. Anyone can be a target.

Gaslighting can take many forms. Sometimes it can involve manipulating a person’s environment behind their back. Other times, the abuse is entirely verbal and emotional.

Common techniques include:

Withholding: Refusing to listen to any concerns or pretending not to understand them.
Example: “I don’t have time to listen to this nonsense. You’re not making any sense.”

Countering: Questioning the target’s memory. An abuser may deny the events occurred in the way the target (accurately) remembers. They may also invent details of the event that did not occur.
Example: “I heard you say it! You never remember our conversations right.”

Forgetting/Denial: Pretending to forget events that have happened to further discredit the victim’s memory. An abuser may deny making promises to avoid responsibility.
Example: “What are you talking about? I never promised you that.”

Blocking/Diversion: Changing the subject to divert the target’s attention from a topic. An abuser may twist a conversation into an argument about the person’s credibility.
Example: “Have you been talking to your sister again? She’s always putting stupid ideas in your head.”

Trivializing: Asserting that a person is overreacting to hurtful behavior. This technique can condition a person into believing their emotions are invalid or excessive.
Example: “You’re so sensitive! Everyone else thought my joke was funny.”

A gaslighter often uses the target’s “mistakes” and “overreactions” to cast themself as the victim. For example, an abuser may scream accusations at a person until the other party must raise their voice to be heard. The abuser may then cut the conversation short, claiming the other person is “out of control” and “too aggressive.” In some cases, the abuser may accuse the other person of being the true gaslighter.


#GasLighting #EmotionalAbuse #Trauma #ToxicPeople

Mind Spa by Isha Malik

POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION can affect women in different ways. It can start at any point in the first year after giving birth and may develop suddenly or gradually.

Many women feel a bit down, tearful or anxious in the first week after giving birth. This is often called the "BABY BLUES" and is so common that it's considered normal.
The "baby blues" don't last for more than 2 weeks after giving birth.

If your symptoms last longer or start later, you could have postnatal depression.


👉 Sleep disturbance, unrelated to baby's sleep needs
(Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when her
baby is asleep)
👉 Inability to cope with daily chores and demands.
👉 Diminished appetite/ Increased appetite (comfort eating)
👉 Feelings of inadequacy(not feeling good enough) i.e Fear
that you're not a good mother.
👉 Guilt.
👉 Loss of confidence and self esteem.
👉 Sadness of mood, crying spells.
👉 Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby.
👉 Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy.
👉Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to
👉Intense irritability and anger.
👉Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make
👉Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family.
👉Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional
attachment with her baby.
👉Persistently doubting her ability to care for her baby.
👉Suffering from physical aches and pains, including
frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain.

#PostPartumDepression #Depression
#ChildBirth #BabyBlues #MoodDisorder

Dr. Stan Tatkin

If you’re looking for a partner, ask yourself what kind of relationship you want.

Do you want a relationship based on radical loyalty?

Do you want to be fully transparent with your partner?

Do you want the relationship to come first?

Do you want your relationship to be infused with playfulness?

Ask yourself these kinds of questions and see if the person you’re dating wants the same things. Creating a secure-functioning relationship starts with making sure you both have the same vision.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

A Harvard study started tracking men in 1938 in hopes of finding what contributes to a healthy and happy life. The study began to include the men’s children and then women in this longitudinal study.

What surprising factor did they find contributes to a long, healthy, and happy life?

Secure relationships.

The study found that the level of satisfaction with relationships in midlife proved more important than genetics for longevity.

This is no excuse not to exercise, but it’s a good reminder that our relationships (romantic and otherwise) should be a top priority. 🥰

Dr. Stan Tatkin

There’s an evolutionary reason for this. Parts of our brain are specialized for picking up threat and danger. That's how we’ve survived as a species.

The automatic part of our brain is very good at picking up dangerous sounds, faces, movements, gestures, contexts, etc.

That’s all great for survival, but those parts of our brain don’t turn off when we’re with our loving partners.

This is why becoming an expert on each other is so important.

Every person has different triggers. When you learn what your partner finds dangerous, you will be able to avoid problems and fix them quicker when they occur.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

You and your partner got together for a reason. If you’re in a difficult period in your relationship, check back in with that reason. Why did you chose each other?

People need people!

Many of us feel as if we’re “do-it-yourself” people. Our culture values independence, but I’m here to make the case that none of us really do better alone.

Another person can greatly enrich your life and help you in ways you may fall short on your own.

Practically, another person can help you:

• Accurately guess, understand, and reflect back to you what you’re going through
• Amplify your positive feelings and experiences, and assuage negative feelings and experiences
• Provide guidance and push you more than you would push yourself
• Step in to help when you’re in trouble, emotionally or otherwise
• Boost your self-esteem

You may not want to form a secure-functioning relationship with one other person, you may prefer to date around or fill those emotional needs with friends.

How your relationships are formed doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you have close relationships. 💗

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44081 Pipeline Plaza, Suite 225
Ashburn, VA

Opening Hours

Tuesday 08:30 - 17:00
Wednesday 08:30 - 19:00
Thursday 08:30 - 17:00
Friday 08:30 - 19:30
Saturday 08:30 - 12:30
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