ACT Book Summary: Pages 238 - 244

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Willingness and Commitment chapter

Clinical Focus
1. The goal of clinical work in this section is to elicit behavior change and support the client's commitment to sustaining this change.
2. Therapeutic topics center around willingness and committed action.
3. There is a chart with goals, strategies, and interventions related to willingness and commitment on page 239.

My comments:
4. The authors note that committed action is "funded by valuing." I find that description very helpful!

Experiential Qualities of Applied Willingness
5. The experiential piece of willingness relates to increasing the client's ability to detect internal struggles and abandon them-even in the midst of the most difficult moments.
6. The authors differentiate willingness from wanting in that often clients feel that they have to want something to do it. They also often feel that if they withhold willingness to have X, X will go away (yet they experience just the opposite).
7. Joe the Bum metaphor (page 24) is used to illustrate willingness.

* This metaphor underscores two characteristics of the fantasy of unwillingness:

1) If only invited and wanted guests came to the party, life would be grand.
2) Withholding willingness to welcome the unwanted guest will somehow promote peace of mind.

My comments:
8. I am struck by how often we expect life to be rosy and don't want anything to happen to upset the applecart, when that's just a frightening way to live!

Willingness Has an All-or-nothing Quality
9. There is an old Zen saying: "You cannot jump a canyon in two steps." The authors provide an experiential exercise on page 241 related to the simile: "willingness is like jumping." They discuss how the quality of jumping is the same whether one chooses to jump off of a book on the floor, off of a chair onto the floor, and off of a building to the ground. It is merely the context that changes and limits willingness. When you try to change the quality of willingness (for example, by trying to reach your toe to the ground from the book or chair), you destroy it altogether.

My comments:
10. Maybe someday I'll be gutsy enough to jump off a chair in my office in the service of illustrating this point to a client-I'll have to commit to that J

Reconnecting with Values, Goals, and Actions
11. At this stage, the therapist reviews the client's contemplated actions in each life domain.
12. While some domains may not be filled in, it is important to develop at least one high priority target and to keep the focus on willingness, not barriers.
13. A couple of therapist statements to illustrate the above are: "What stands in the way of you setting your willingness on high right now?" (the therapist noting the barriers the client cites) and "Has being unwilling worked to protect you over the long haul from those reactions?"

Committed Action as a Process
14. It is not unusual for clients to avoid making a commitment because of the fear of failure to keep it.
15. There is a therapist-client dialogue on pages 243-244 demonstrating the difference between process and outcome (and how to help the client see this difference).

My comments:
16. I think it's crucial in any behavior change undertaken by humans to realize (intellectually and experientially) that it is a process, and one will inevitably "fall off the wagon." I attribute this to "stress inoculation" or the Zen meditative notion of guiding one's wandering mind back to task.