“What we need to learn to do is to look at thought, rather than from thought.”
Steven C. Hayes.
Clients and other therapists who know me know that I consider myself an “eclectic” therapist. I’m most comfortable utilizing a variety of therapeutic modalities, rather than just one form of therapy.
As such, I have used Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). I also have used Family Systems Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). And now, finally, I have started the process to become certified in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
This all began as a response to my work with people suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is what initially led me to EMDR. However, when I began working exclusively through telemedicine, I no longer felt I could use EMDR with my clients who have PTSD. It, to me, is contraindicated, as they can experience dissociation.
As a highly prinicipled therapist, I cannot, in good faith, conduct a therapy session with a client who might dissociate. If I cannot reach them, they could, potentially, become unsafe. I felt I had to find another option for these clients, so I found Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) came into “being” in 1982. Steven C. Hayes identified a “new” way of working with patients, with a framework that has some things in common with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
ACT focuses on helping people feel and express, indeed, accept, unpleasant feelings. And, in doing so, people can learn how to deal with them and to NOT overreact to them, or try to avoid them.
CBT differs from ACT, as ACT helps people better “manage” their thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories. This is accomplished by just “noticing, accepting and embracing” those states/events, rather than trying to change or reject them. Even in the case of unwanted states/events, this is a goal with ACT.
6 Core Psychological Flexibility Processes
Stage 1 – Acceptance, to allow unwanted states/events/experiences to come and go without fighting them.
Stage 2 – Defusion, to stop trying to make these states/events/experiences “concrete,” but, instead understanding that they are abstracts.
Stage 3 – Present Moment, to be aware of the “here and the now.”
Stage 4 – Contextualized Self, to become intimate with the authentic self, the “real” self, as it is consistent and constant in life.
Stage 5 – Values, to identify what is most important to you.
Stage 6 – Committed Action, to identify and set goals based on one’s own values, and carrying them out responsibly, to lead to a meaningful, fulfilled life.