Consciousness Is Its Own Broom

Suzuki reports the following curious exchange between Yun-men (a Zen master) and a fellow monk. When asked “Who is Buddha?” Yun-men said: “The dried-up dirt cleaner.”

To my analysis, this a rather profound response, although it doesn’t seem so at first. After all, Buddha as a dirt cleaner? What does that mean?

Creating Your Beyond

As a therapist in private practice my greatest joy is in working with people who are survivors of catastrophic violence and are ready to move beyond the trauma and the loss. It is amazing to witness the resilience of the human spirit.

This page contains attachments restricted to ACBS members. Please join or login with your ACBS account.

Can ACT and CBT be Merged?

It doesn't seem to me that ACT and CT are incompatible.  For argument's sake, let's assume that the two treatments can be merged in a meaningful way. If they can be merged, how would we go about basically integrating the different techniques (we'll save integrating the philosophies for a different day)? Well, some may argue that placing an emphasis on honing the ability to catch thoughts with the use of mindfulness techniques must precede the teaching of disputing irrational thoughts.  At first glance this seems logical perhaps because it is assumed that one must be mindfully aware of a thought before being able to dispute it.  I'm not so sure. 

Through cognitive restructuring, if patients are first made aware of the fact that their thoughts are irrational, they may have a better framework in which to do ACT work. After cognitive restructuring, they have not only identified which thoughts are dysfunctional or irrational, but have been lead through a reasoning process of why these thoughts are inaccurate. Now with a deeper understanding of why their thoughts are irrational and a clinically significant lesser degree of belief in the verity of the content of these thoughts, they could be in a better position to recognize which cognitions are best to defuse from.  Speaking practically from an ACT perspective, using the chessboard metaphor as an example, patients may better be able to identify the "black" pieces from which to defuse, while still being able to maintain self-as-context.   After cognitive restructuring and focusing on self-as-context, it seems to me that people have a greater fighting chance of being able to accomplish the very cerebrally taxing feat of letting thoughts float by.  In short, by first providing cognitive restructuring and framing the self as a container of both rational and irrational thoughts, increased understanding, use, and efficacy of mindfulness techniques may follow. 

Of course I recognize that "irrational" thoughts are not the only type of cognitions associated with negative or dysregulated affect.  There are a range of painful memories, facts, images, and maybe even manic tendencies with which disputation may not be particularly effective, and whereby defusion and mindfulness may be more appropriate; however, systematically disputing the cognitions associated with negative affect that are irrational before getting into ACT work may still generally be helpful. 



ACBS Spotlight -- "Learning RFT": Simple, Coherent, & Highly Recommended New Book Targeting Clinicians But Useful to Many

learning rft.jpg



My first reaction to this book is a simple and powerful: "FINALLY." 

Why, you ask? 

Jen Plumb TV interview on values and "The Art and Science of Valuing in Psychotherapy"

Jennnifer C. Plumb TV interview: The co-author of "The Art and Science of Valuing in Psychotherapy" discusses the ACT perspective on the significance and role of values in living life fully. The interview can be helpful as stand alone instruction or as a compliment to those psychotherapists/clients studying and implementing the wisdom found in "The Art and Science...". The interview can be found at

Kelly G. Wilson TV interview on anxiety and "Things Might Go Horribly, Terribly Wrong"

Kelly G. Wilson TV interview on addressing anxiety from an ACT perspective and his new book addressing anxiety : "Things Might Go Horribly, Terribly Wrong". The interview can be helpful to clients as a stand alone discussion of healthy ways to address anxiety or as a compliment for clients addressing their anxiety using Kelly's book as a guide. The interview can be found at :

Buddhism and ACT

In June 2010, I gave a lecture on ACT and Buddhism at the Interdependence Project in New York City.  You can listen to the talk by clicking here:  4 Noble Truths of ACT

A really simple, stripped down tutorial on Relational Frame Theory

This is really oversimplified, but might be a good introduction for some into Relational Frame Theory (I am not the author):

ACT TV interviews as psychoeducation: in-session and/or homework

ACT TV interviews with Steve, Jacque, Victoria, Robyn, Barbara and others have been helpful to clients in-session and as adjuncts to homework with Steve's "Get Out of Your Mind...", Victoria and Jacque's "Finding Life Beyond Trauma" and Robyn's "Mindful Couple".

Interviews address ACT in daily living, and with chronic illness, diabetes, substance abuse, trauma, eating disorders, childhood obesity, relationships, etc.

Soon, interviews with Kelly Wilson on anxiety and Jen Plumb on values will also be available.

GoToTraining for the Webinar is Back Up

Hi folks.

I fixed the Go To Training signup page for the Webinar this Wednesday.

Thanks to those who let me know about the problem.


4-Session Weight Loss Protocol based on the Matrix


Matrix Life Manual: Newest Version

Hi Folks interested in the Matrix:

Thanks for all of your kind words in Reno!

Here is a version of the Matrix Life Manual. The trainee's name goes at the top. Values and Committed Actions (Toward) work is done on the right, Away (unworkable change agenda) work on the left using the Suffering and Solutions lists.

NOTE, NOTE and NOTE: There are no good or bad parts of the Matrix, there is only "Noticing the Difference between ____ and _____". All evaluations, including good and bad, are sorted (noticed as) mental experiencing. 

This page contains attachments restricted to ACBS members. Please join or login with your ACBS account.

Dogs Crow, Cocks Bark

Small Knowledge said: "Ji Zhen holds that the world was not created by anything, and Jiezi holds that it was created by something. Which is correct and which is wrong?"
Comprehensive Understanding, as reported by Zhuangzi, replied: "Cocks crow and dogs bark."

everything happens

and choices are made

Mind on a Range

At my epistemological best, I am a lucid dreamer, dreaming that I am awake.

At my epistemological worst, I am blissfully asleep, believing in a distinction between fact and fiction.

At my epistemological middle, I am the sound of one skull breathing and snoring.

Mindfulness and Acceptance Group - Last Session

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.

Mindfulness and Acceptance Group - part II

This is a new blog entry on the process of creating a Mindfulness and Acceptance Group at Lehman College using the Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression.

I searched this site and reviewed blogs of those who have used ACT in group process, and I found some really interesting information. I thank you all for having the courage to share, and I like to read the comments too because they are so helpful.

The Population I serve - traditional and non traditional college students ranging from 17 to 60. Students in this group range from 20-30.

Fear No Emptiness

Truth is tribe-specific, mind-specific, moment-specific, fear-specific information.
You make a sound (whatever it is that your culture designated for a given fear)
And - bam! - everybody’s mind stops agog: “What? What?!”

I know one thing: there is no one thing, i.e. there is no one truth, i.e. there is no truth.
I left some blank space above and below for you to process this information
out of the singularity of your emptiness.

Fear no emptiness, certainly not your own!
"Boo!-ddha" is but an alarm call for: "beware of informational fullness."
Empty your mind of fear.

Your (and my) skull is a soup bowl full of alphabet; tip it over.
Fear no information.
Let mind spill.

What's in the thought bubble above your head?

Current favorite primary care intervention...


Who am I?
D’ you know it? Shall I know it some day?
I am my own way,
the waiting room of the being
That is waiting for me.
Today I’ve been a coward, a genius yesterday
And a stupid some other day;
I am an exhausted walker,
A deserted way,
A passing cloud
A gentle rain
A sour tear
A lonely wind
An extinguished fire.
And who knows what
I’ll be tomorrow.
And what about you,
Do you know who are you?
How many “you” are in you?
And who are all those people around…?
Do you know what “to be” means?
Tell it to me, please
I am yearning to know it.

Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression - a group process

I am using the Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression in a group format at Lehman College, and will document my findings here. I did look at the resources here to see who has done depression groups or groups in general from an ACT perspective, and what I have found has been helpful.

Setting: Lehman College

Using the Hexaflex as a way of underpinning a school's organizational framework

I have been a Guidance Officer with Education Queensland for the last 12 years. In that capacity I have visited many, many schools: I am constantly amazed that none of them has a psychological framework that underpins the functioning of those schools. My belief that the Hexaflex is an an excellent model for underpinning the functioning of a school! I am posting this in the hope that someone might know whether this can be done/is being done, and if possible 'help me with the cause' of implementing the Hexaflex as an organizational framework. Any help/advice will much appreciated.

Open inpatient groups

I am attempting to put together a small, daily, open co-ed group of 5-8 patients with a dx of PTSD or trauma related issues. The average stay of a patient is 7 - 10 days. The primary questions arises, how do I present a psycho-ed / process group model and apply it with the above noted parameters. I presume that I will teach a "module" on Monday and another "module" on Tuesday, etc. -How do I convey Monday's module to the new members in Tuesday's group w/o taking up inordinate amount of time. Any ideas? Thanks


Hi Folks,

I just uploaded a new video showing the basic structure of how Jerold and I assign homework.

We always assign homework and then review it in the next session.

We have 100% homework compliance.

Take care,


Kevin L. Polk, Ph.D. P.S.

Learning ACT through the Matrix and New (free) Value a Day Course


The recording of the March 31, 2010 Webinar titled
"Learning ACT through the Matrix"
is now available at [[]].

This was a slightly more technical webinar in which I established the Matrix
and also talked about Relational Frame Theory, Functional Contextualism and
the Hexaflex. We talked a lot about the target of ACT: Psychological Flexibility


The Value A Day email course has been updated. It is now more consistent

WALRUS -- Working and Living Resiliently Under Stress

Have you stumbled upon this site while looking for information about the WALRUS stress reduction program and online in-service course? You're in luck! Keep reading for more information, or email to enroll.


This is a press release I recently wrote for a stress reduction program I'm running through UNR with education employees in Nevada. Hopefully we'll be able to help some people out in these rough times. Plus, we'll be collecting data that can help others down the road. Here's the release:

On Being a Graduate Student and Learning ACT

I'm about halfway through my Master's in Counseling program at Webster University in St. Louis, MO (U.S.). ACT, along with Existential influences, is my theoretical orientation. I was wondering if anyone out there who is also in graduate school and subscribes to ACT theory has encountered the absolute weirdness that this brings. That is to say, that ACT runs against many traditional therapies, including aspects of CBT. However, ACT seems to really run counter to psychodynamic theory in case conceptualization, theory of psychopathology, and many other aspects.

Experimental Blog Entry: Do not wash . . .

Dedicated to the people I serve, I have enjoyed providing psychotherapy and mental health care through the practice of evidence-based cognitive and behavioral therapy for two full decades. My solo private practice offers an elegant, relaxed and entirely confidential setting for the effective realization of vital personal change.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Treatment for Depression, Anxiety and Panic
Seattle Mental Health Therapist: Psychotherapist and Psychologist Referrals
Private Counselor: Learn Self-Regulation of Your Mood, Emotion and Behavior

Sorting for Self as Context Video

For those who are interested, I just posted a "Sorting" video here [[]] in the Glossary section of the ACT by Numbers website.

Sorting refers to, "Noticing the difference between five-senses experiencing and mental experiencing; and noticing the difference between moving toward and moving away." The sorting is done from a distanced, self-as-context point of view.

Just email me if you have questions.

Take care,


Update to the PTSD IOP at Togus

Hi Folks,

Attached you will find a pdf for the new IOP format. This adjustment shows our moving "The Press Box View" from Thursday to Tuesday in light of program evaluation data showing we needed to ramp up self as context.

Take Care,


Kevin L. Polk, Ph.D.
PTSD IOP, Togus, Maine

This page contains attachments restricted to ACBS members. Please join or login with your ACBS account.
Syndicate content