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ACT Therapeutic Posture

  • Whatever a client is experiencing is not the enemy. It is the fight against experiencing experiences that is harmful and traumatic.
  • You can't rescue clients from the difficulty and challenge of growth.
  • Compassionately accept no reasons—the issue is workability not reasonableness.
  • If the client is trapped, frustrated, confused, afraid, angry or anxious be glad—this is exactly what needs to be worked on and it is here now. Turn the barrier into the opportunity.
  • If you yourself feel trapped, frustrated, confused, afraid, angry or anxious be glad: you are now in the same boat as the client and your work will be humanized by that.
  • In the area of acceptance, defusion, self, and values it is more important as a therapist to do as you say than to say what to do
  • Don't argue. Don't persuade. The issue is the client's life and the client's experience, not your opinions and beliefs. Belief is not your friend.
  • You are in the same boat. Never protect yourself by moving one up.
  • The issue is always function, not form or frequency. When in doubt ask yourself or the client “what is this in the service of.”

Readings on this topic

Follette, V. M., & Batten, S. V. (2000). The role of emotion in psychotherapy supervision: A contextual behavioral analysis. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 7(3), 306-312.

Pierson, H. & Hayes, S. C. (2007). Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to empower the therapeutic relationship. Chapter in P. Gilbert & R. Leahy (Eds.), The Therapeutic Relationship in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (pp. 205-228). London: Routledge.

Wilson, K. G., & Sandoz, E. K. (2008). Mindfulness, values, and the therapeutic relationship in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. In S. F. Hick & T. Bein (Eds.), Mindfulness and the therapeutic relationship. New York: Guilford Press.

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