Intensive Training in Pragmatic/Experiential Therapy for Couples (PET-C)

Learn Pragmatic/Experiential Therapy for Couples (PET-C), a step-by-step approach that translates advances in neurobiology and relationship science into practical methods for improving relationships. Through viewing and discussing videos of Dr. Atkinson’s therapy sessions, reviewing critical steps involved in specific interventions, and engaging in skill-building simulations, you’ll learn methods for tackling contempt and rewiring reactivity that are missing from other couples therapy approaches. By the end of your training, you’ll be masterful at helping partners:

  • Become willing to drop the upper hand and put themselves on a level playing field with their mates.
  • Understand and assume responsibility for their mutual contributions to the depleted condition of their relationship.
  • Experience genuine regret and remorse for the pain that they have caused each other.
  • Come to grips with their perpetual differences, cut their losses, and get on the same page with a game plan for how to manage these differences more successfully in the future.
  • Rewire the way their nervous systems react in emotionally charged situations.
  • Navigate spontaneous disagreements better – replacing criticism, defensiveness and dismissiveness with more effective ways of getting their needs met.
  • Avoid rabbit holes that lead to repetitive arguments.
  • Create relational safety, allowing partners to open their hearts to each other, enabling feelings of warmth, tenderness, affection, playfulness, sexual interest and the desire for loving connection to emerge.

Listen to Dr. Brent Atkinson talk to therapists about Pragmatic/Experiential Therapy for Couples (PET-C):

Part 1:  Foundations of PET-C

Part 2:  Rewiring Reactivity and Cultivating Desire

Part 3:  PET-C Training

PET-C Training Format:

As a PET-C training participant, you will watch videos of Dr. Atkinson teaching every step and nuance of Pragmatic/Experiential Therapy for Couples. These teaching videos draw on live presentations Dr. Atkinson has given along with studio recordings and Dr. Atkinson’s therapy sessions in which he demonstrates specific PET-C methods and interventions. Every week you will be assigned videos to watch at whatever times are convenient for you (The total length of viewing time each week will average between 2 and 4 hours). At the end of each week you will have the option of meeting live with Dr. Atkinson via Zoom in order to ask questions relevant to the teaching videos assigned that week and interact with Dr. Atkinson as he answers questions. These live interaction sessions with Dr. Atkinson will be reserved exclusively for those who are able to watch the assigned teaching videos for the week and come ready to ask specific questions. (Note: You don’t need to wait to begin viewing the PET-C training videos until the next scheduled PET-C training. You will have access to all of the training videos for each Level as soon as you register for that level.)

Upcoming PET-C Training Dates:

The training videos are available to you whenever you register.  Here are the next Live Interactive Discussion sessions with Dr. Atkinson

After each training, you will be given the opportunity to enroll in a PET-C supervision group with Dr. Atkinson or another senior PET-C supervisor to facilitate your ongoing PET-C skill development.

Prior to beginning the training, Participants are encouraged to read Part 1 of Dr. Atkinson’s book for therapists, Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy: Advances from Neurobiology and the Science of Intimate Relationships. During PET-C training, you’ll learn how to use phone apps to strengthen your therapeutic impact, and you’ll also learn how and when to generate personalized handouts and exercises for your clients from the PET-C client manual, Developing Habits for Relationship Success.

More Information

What Therapists Are Saying…

“Atkinson’s pioneering methods for rewiring automatic emotional processes in the brain are widely recognized.”
-Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

“The PEX Method is the only approach that adequately addresses the problem of blame and contempt in the early stages of relationship recovery.”
– Filip Pavlinec —Swiss Institute for Relationships (

“Any couples therapists concerned about increasing their effectiveness and avoiding relapse need to master this powerful new approach!”
-Thomas C. Todd, Ph.D.,
Recipient, award for Outstanding Contributions to Family Therapy, Theory, and Practice,
American Family Therapy Academy

“Destined to be one of the most important books on couples therapy of this decade… A tour de force of scientific sophistication and clinical wisdom. Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy will be a classic!”
Douglas H. Sprenkle, Ph.D.
-Former Editor, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy
-Recipient, AAMFT Award for Cumulative Career
Contribution to Family Therapy Research.

“The habits for relationship success illustrated in this book dramatically improved my own clinical work.”
-Teresa McDowell, Ed.D.,
Professor & Chair, Department of Counseling Psychology,
Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling.

“Atkinson draws on the latest research into the behavior of couples in intimate relationships and the impact of the emotional brain on human interaction. He provides a specific step-by-step guide to developing habits that greatly increase the chances of having a successful, loving relationship.”
-Harvey Joanning, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus,
Iowa State University and Texas Tech University.

“This training was a GAME CHANGER. So much good, clear information that hones in on the aspects of couples’ work that is most effective in creating lasting change. I think the book [Developing Habits for Relationship Success] should be required reading for all clinicians and people in long-term relationships!”
-Kelley Watts, Psychologist, Houston, Texas

“Training with Dr. Atkinson has by far been the most rewarding investment of my career and honestly, toward my personal and relational health and happiness.”
-Angie Tsiatsos Phillips, Director, Colorado Couples Clinic

“Brent Atkinson’s Pragmatic Experiential Method skillfully blends mindfulness practices with neurobiological discoveries and cutting-edge research about why intimate relationships succeed or fail. Brent is a master trainer and his 5-day workshop gives therapists all the tools they need to help clients function at higher levels when the smoke alarm goes off. Two thumbs up!”
-Diana Shulman, J.D, Ph.D., Author of ABC’s of Love, Los Angeles

“Brent is a phenomenal therapist and mentor. I use his approach daily in my private practice and clients love the guidance and tools. His approach makes improvement feel tangible, not elusive like so many other approaches. Oh, and PS…. I believe I have an awesome marriage of 20+ years because of all I have learned from Brent!”
-Carrie Hammond, Founder of the Colorado Couples and Family Therapy Center

“I often say that the PET-C would have been helpful for me to learn in my 20’s and would have made my first marriage go much better. His approach has helped me become a more confident person and much better able to manage conflict in healthy ways. I am grateful for what Brent developed and his contributions to the Marriage and Family Therapy field.”
-Mary Beth Harper, Founder, Collaborative Marriage and Family Counseling
St. Louis

“Over the last ten years I have asked Brent Atkinson to train my staff several times in PET-C.  We decided that it is such a useful method that any therapist who wants to provide relationship therapy needs to have a working knowledge of PET-C. This model is complete, sophisticated and approachable.”
-Suzanne Drennan, Owner, The Psychology Center, Madison, Wisconsin

“I enrolled in a week-long intensive training seminar with Dr. Atkinson 10 years ago in Appleton, WI. I am now in the Houston Texas area and am in private practice. Dr. Atkinson’s Emotional Habits for Couples, 12-Step Summary for resolving conflicts, and Core Differences in personality are a part of almost every couple session that I facilitate. They make an amazing impact in the healing of the couples that I work with. Thank you, Brent!”
-Mary Lambrecht, Founder, Family Help Counseling, Spring, Texas

“Brent’s work and the work of the Couples Clinic as a whole is deeply grounded in the leading research in the field of marital distress and applicable to anyone who wants to learn to love well.”
-Kerry Lusignan, Director of the Northampton Center for Couples Therapy, Massachusettes

“I highly recommend Brent’s trainings – they’ll make a big difference in your career and effectiveness as a couples therapist.”
-DJ Hilley, MSEd, LPC, Madison, Wisconsin

“As a psychologist and trainee in the Couples Clinic methods, I have integrated many valuable materials and concepts into my life as well as my work with couples. This is a comprehensive and transformational approach to healing relationships.”
-Jade Mueller, Ph.D., Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Learn More About…

PET-C Level 1 Training

PET-C Level 2 Training

PET-C Level 3 Training