Mindfulness and Acceptance Group - Last Session

Printer-friendly version

The Last Group Session:

The group took on its own structure, and it became an opened group where students who had registered to participate could come in and out, and new members could join at any time.

So, we always had a mini review before beginning, and it felt like a new beginning every time we started. The weather did not help as two sessions were canceled due to it, and then there was spring break which also affected continuity. Finally, there was the issue of changing the date from a Saturday to a Wednesday which yielded more of the students who wanted to participate, but by then we had an open group.

I realized then that I had to let go of the concept of 6 sessions and allow the ending to come when it came, and allow the group to be what it was. We wanted to end before finals, May 12, and we knew that this might happen, but we also knew that it might not and we all agreed to meet for one more session after finals if needed.

I also understood that the book we used, Mindfulness and Acceptance workbook written by husband and wife team Kirck Strosahl and Patti Robinson, as the structure for this group maybe was not meant for group process, but for an individual to review and do the exercises by themselves or with the assistance of a therapist.

I would recommend anyone who wants to use this book in therapy to use it with an ACT therapist, and not alone. I would also say that there may be other group formats on the ACBS website that is more suitable for group process, and you don't have to start from scratch.

Final group structure:
Session 1: Introduction to ACT and Depression
Session 2: Values, Acceptance and Change
Session 3: Watch Your Mind
Session 4: Watch Your Storyline
Session 5: Being Present
Session 6: Life Plan and Stay Focus

Our finals sessions.

By now, students are in the process of preparing for finals, so Session 6 on 5/5/10 was our last session and focused on Life Vision, and Plan and staying focus despite whatever comes.

The visualization for this exercise was long, and like some other exercises in this book a bit confusing. We decided to treat this section almost as a workshop, or a standalone session on Life Vision. A reminder was sent to all group member. There were 2 old members, and 2 new member, as one of our old members brought a friend with her to the group.

• This session began with a review of what has happened, and what has been learned.
• We spoke about life plan, life vision and then moved on to a visualization
• The visualization was long and took some twist and turns where you would get a Life Vision Gift and then this would be followed by a columns of questions regarding this life vision gift and the life plan. For one student the visualization and the exercise was very powerful. For two other students, the columns and the questions were confusing. Here they are:

1. In the first column, “Life Vision Gift,” (That's the visualization) describe what you saw or
received on Vision Plateau that gave breadth or depth to your vision for your life in each key arena of
life. There are 4 areas " Health, Relationship, Work(school) and Play.
2. In the second column, “Life Vision Statement,” use one sentence to describe your vision for your
life in each arena.
3. In the third column, “Values,” describe your values in each of the arenas at this point in time.
This statement need not be comprehensive; just write a concise statement that’s representative of your
current perspective on what’s important in each arena.
4. In the fourth column, “Vision and Values Statement,” integrate your vision and values into one
statement of purpose and intention.

As one student was having difficulties with this step, I pointed out to simplify it to just share her vision in each of the key areas: Health, Relationship, Work/School, Play. Most of the book focuses on "Work" and so I told the students that for our purposes to use "Academics" as part of work.

I asked them to pick one area that they are working on , and then we spoke about staying focus to continuing working in this area. One person picked School, "Graduating", this was the focus and another Play, "Do more art" and another person picked "Health", and then we reviewed these in relation to the visualization, but if nothing happened in the visualization, that was ok too. We spoke about life goals, and breaking these down to simpler goals and then breaking those steps to simpler ones. Staying focus on one goal for example, "graduation" and breaking that down to studying for exams, getting things ready for graduation, apply for jobs etc.

This step with it's long visualization, and exercise: A life vision visualization, to a life vision gift, to a life vision statement, to values, to visions and values statements, this could be simpler.

I then summarized our first session, ACT and the goal of ACT and the ACT mantra and related it all to life plan and direction.

A for Accept
C for Choose
T for Take action

Readings here on this site related to groups have been very helpful, particularly Kevin Pollock's The Matrix (Life Manual), and his 4 session structure.

Sharing ACT with students in a simpler format that does not focus on Depression or Anxiety may be more appropriate to our setting, and our students.

The group became an open group where students dropped in for one session or another, but all of them felt they were benefiting from the conversations and were able to incorporate mindfulness and acceptance into their daily life. Most felt they would continue this conversation as they found it beneficial.

I certainly will continue to review ways to simplify ACT for our student population at the college. I thank you all for having the courage to share your work, and look forward to reading your blogs, your questions and answers as they have helped me through this process.