ACT Book Summary: Pages 275 - 288

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Negative leverage points in ACT

ACT is not an intellectual exercise
Overemphasizing verbal content and trying to convince clients is the antithesis of an effective ACT relationship. Better: - be "compassionately confrontational"
- no more than 20% of the session involving explaining ACT principles
- use metaphors and exercises

Modeling a lack of acceptance
This is especially difficult with more disturbed clients (suicidality, self-mutilation, bizarre behaviors,...)
Ways of nonacceptance: - selective reinforcement of socially desirable thoughts & behavior, while ignoring or disputing negatively evaluated experiences
- using the language of choice in a socially coercive way: "It's your choice, and you're not making it!"
- "Where did you learn that way of thinking?" Heavy emphasis on history & reason giving
Solution: acknowledge it & let go of it.

Excessive focus on emotional processing
Misconception: clients should "get in touch with their feelings". This is true only insofar as avoidance blocks them taking a committed direction in life.
No emotional rediscovery for it's own sake. This is the most seductive error.
Solution: come back to active exercises linked to values and behavior change.

There will be issues that are as salient for the therapist as for the client. Resulting in: topic avoidance, advice giving, excessive reliance on personal experience.
Solution: self-acceptance for the therapist
• The therapeutic relationship:

strong, open accepting, mutual, respectful, loving.
It's not an end purpose per se.
• ACT in context

- Don't "believe" a word in this book
- Important (different from many other clinical traditions): link with experimental research
- "Are we using language or is language using us?"
- It's our job to try to establish & support cultural practices inside & outside psychotherapy that ameliorate these destructive processes in a socially broader way (e.g. acceptance & cognitive defusion). Psychotherapy sometimes undermines valuable existing traditions (spiritual & non-rigid, non-punitive religious traditions).


  • some useful rules are given (esp. for beginners): no more than 20% explanation, back to exercise, ...
  • excessive focus on emotional processing: I was exactly doing this the very moment I read this piece. Back to values and behavior!
  • remaining questions: what about clients not seeking help, but needing it (involuntary treatment); how to integrate RFT with other problems (not having to do with avoidance): impulsivity, aggression, ...