ACT Can Help You Do More with What You Have
ACT BootCamp is a 4-day, live intensive training that is designed to familiarize clinicians with the core concepts of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is not a set of techniques as much as it is a set of processes you can detect and change.
Almost regardless of clinicians’ specific background, you already have methods that fit with an ACT model. That means you can begin to do ACT by using methods you have, only in a different way that empowers their impact. Once there, it is easy to add specific ACT techniques and method to your skills set, and conversely to use existing methods to do more
This year we are taking a little bit of a different approach. The theme is “Do-More-with-What-You-Have”. What does that mean?
As clinicians, we all tend to get attached to our “team” or “group”, and identify ourselves with the therapy we practice. “I’m a CBT therapist, and therefore I would never do ACT.” Or, by the same token, “I’m an ACT therapist, and therefore CBT methods are not going to be helpful to me.”
While these distinctions may be useful in defining a set of ideas or practices, they can blind us to new ways to be helpful in the therapeutic setting. We all want to do what works. We all want to “do more with what we have”.
All methods that are known to be helpful – cognitive, existential, analytic, systems, behavioral, humanistic, relationship focused, and so on – have a place in the ACT model. What is important is when and why.
For example, many trade CBT techniques can be reimagined in ACT terms opening up new possibilities about how we treat clients.
Take cognitive restructuring. We are learning through mediational research that restructuring and reappraisal are most helpful when they foster cognitive flexibility, especially as linked to other forms of psychological flexibility. When put to this purpose the point of cognitive restructuring changes from learning to think rationally, or to replace thought x with thought y, to learning to consider a wider range of cognitive options.
Take exposure. We are learning, again especially through mediational research that exposure is a matter of contact with previously repertoire narrowing events in ways that increase response flexibility. Values work helps clients (and therapists!) in their willingness to do exposure. Emotional labeling and openness helps augment the impact of exposure.
Take behavioral activation. It’s empowered by values work.
Same with parent training. Same with relationship focused work.
So this year at BootCamp we want to get beyond the “ACT therapists just do ACT” way of thinking and start looking at how ACT as a pragmatic model can be useful in the room regardless of your background or preferred psychological modality.
I hope some of you will join us. It should be an exciting camp. Pre-registration ends January 16, so for the best pricing make sure to sign up before then.