149 -Acceptance And Commitment Therapy Overview
Counselor Toolbox

 
 
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ACT and the Matrix
What Every Counselor Should Know
with Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director, AllCEUs
Host: Counselor Toolbox & Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery

CEUs based on this video are available at https://www.allceus.com/member/cart/index/product/id/519/c/

Objectives
~ Review the main points of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
~ Review how to apply the matrix
~ Identify the shortcut question
The Main Principles of ACT
~ The goals are to:
~ Create a rich and meaningful life, while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it.
~ Learn to perceive difficult thoughts and feelings as harmless, even if uncomfortable, transient psychological events.
~ Take effective action guided by your deepest values and in which you are fully present and engaged. (No autopilot)
Control is the Problem, Not the Solution
~ Clean Discomfort: When emotions and reactions are accepted, it leads to a natural level of physical and emotional discomfort
~ Dirty Discomfort: Once you start struggling with it, your “struggle switch is turned on” and discomfort increases rapidly.
~ Struggle switch is like an emotional amplifier—switch it on, and you can have anger about your anxiety, anxiety about your anger, depression about your depression, or guilt about our guilt.

Experiential Avoidance

~ The more time and energy spent trying to avoid or get rid of unwanted feelings in general, the more we are likely to suffer “Quicksand”
~ Anxiety (Fear things won’t get better)
~ Anger (Frustration things aren’t getting better)
~ Depression (Hopelessness and helplessness—resignation that things can’t get better)
Changeable Variables in Context
~ Emotions are a natural way your body prompts you to act.
~ Focus on changeable variables in the context in which the issue occurs
~ Physical vulnerabilities (sleep, nutrition, pain)
~ Relationships (boundaries and communication)
~ Thoughts (Distress Tolerant)
~ Behaviors (DBT/CBT)

 

Six Core Principles of ACT
~ Values Awareness
~ Contact with the Present Moment
~ The Observing Self
~ Acceptance
~ Diffusion
~ Committed Action

Clarifying the Destination
Values & Goals Awareness
~ A lack of clarity about values can underlie much of people’s distress or keep them “stuck.”
~ Like going on a road trip without a destination
~ They can get caught up spinning their wheels trying to fight against something or use that same energy to work toward something.
~ “What is the most effective use of your limited energy and time to help you achieve your goals?”

Clarifying the Destination
Values & Goals
~ Clarifying
~ Relationships: Who is most important to you?
~ Which people?
~ What do you want those relationships to be like?
~ What events, things, experiences are meaningful to you?
~ Work
~ Health
~ Personal Growth
Clarifying cont…
~ Values
~ What values do you want to embody (Choose 5)?
ACT Matrix: Destination Identification
• Values Awareness
• Contact with the Present Moment
• The Observing Self
• Acceptance
• Diffusion
• Committed Action

The Observing Self
The Audience
~ Fly on the Wall /Scientist/Nurse doing bed check
~ Curious
~ Objective
~ Nonjudgmental

Mindfulness in the Present Moment
Awareness of What Is
~ Contact with the Present Moment/Bringing full awareness to your here-and-now experience
~ How do I feel?
~ What are my thoughts, wants and urges?
~ What physical sensations am I experiencing?
~ Describe the environment—smell, temperature, colors, objects, people, sounds, etc…
~ I (see, hear, smell) ______ It reminds me of _____
Acceptance (Radical)
~ Making room for unpleasant feelings, sensations, urges
~ Allowing them to come and go without running from them or giving them undue attention.
Cognitive Diffusion
Unhooking Thoughts and Behaviors
~ Cognitive diffusion means:
~ “Stepping back” and recognizing that thoughts are just temporary, automatic events
~ Unhooking:
~ Thoughts/feelings don’t always have to lead to action

Cognitive Diffusion
Unhooking Thoughts and Behaviors
~ Here’s a simple exercise in cognitive diffusion:
~ Think of a negative behavior. “I need to X” “I need to have a drink.”
~ Think about it. Believe it as much as you can.
~ Notice how it affects you.
~ Now insert the phrase “I’m having the thought that….” in front of “I need to X.”
~ Think about it.
~ Notice what happens.
Cognitive Diffusion
Unhooking Thoughts and Behaviors
~ Here’s another exercise in cognitive diffusion:
~ Think of a negative self-judgment that takes the form “I am X” such as “I’m stupid.”
~ Think about it. Believe it as much as you can.
~ Notice how it affects you.
~ Now insert the phrase “I’m having the thought that….” in front of “I am X.”
~ Think about it.
~ Notice what happens.
Other Unhooking Techniques
~ Thoughts are not causes. “Is it possible to think that thought, as a thought, AND do x?”
~ Who is in charge here? Treat thoughts as bullies
~ OK, you are right. Now what?
Committed Action
~ Commit to:
~ Mindfulness to identify diversions
~ Being willing to accept what is (Distress Tolerance)
~ Actively unhooking to examine the situation objectively so you can:
~ Choose/commit to behaviors that will move you toward your goals and values
~ Choose to let go of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that divert you from your goals.
Matrix: General
Toward Behaviors Cheat Sheet
IMPROVE
~ Imagery
~ Meaning
~ Prayer
~ Relax
~ One thing at a time
~ Vacation
~ Encouragement
ACCEPTS
~ Activities
~ Contributing
~ Comparisons
~ Opposite Emotion
~ Pushing Away
~ Thoughts
~ Sensations
ACT Matrix
ACT Matrix
ACT Matrix
ACT Matrix
ACT Matrix
ACT Matrix
ACT Matrix
ACT Matrix
ACT Matrix
Put It Together
Example: Do Something Embarrassing
Example: Chronic Illness
Shortcut Question
~ Are my current thoughts, feelings and actions moving me closer to, or further away from my goals and values.
~ Is [this] worth my energy?
Summary
~ The goal of ACT is to create a rich and meaningful life, while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it
~ Therapeutic Interventions focus around two main processes:
~ Developing acceptance of unwanted private experiences which are out of personal control.
~ Commitment and action toward living a valued life.

Summary
~ Every event is an opportunity to choose thoughts and behaviors that will help you use your energy to move toward your goals and values
~ Acceptance means accepting, without judgement, how you feel and the situation as it is instead of fighting against it.
~ Commitment and purposeful action mean that you choose to use your energy on thoughts and behaviors that move you closer to your goals
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