Getting to the Heart of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT): An Experiential (Re)Introduction

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May 19 2018 - 9:00am - 4:30pm
World Region: 
North America
United States
Matthew Boone

Program Abstract: Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based behavior therapy that encourages clients to let go of struggling with what can’t be changed (i.e., acceptance) and take action in the service of values (i.e., commitment). ACT foregoes the usual emphasis of psychotherapy – feeling better – in favor of something more vital: building a meaningful life. ACT encourages clients to build psychological flexibility, the ability to focus on the present and change or persist in behavior when doing so serves personally chosen values. Targeting psychological flexibility has been shown to make a difference in an array of problems, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, coping with cancer, living with psychosis, and weight loss.

Yet, ACT can sometimes be a puzzle to both new and seasoned practitioners. It offers clinicians a variety of tools for helping clients embrace thoughts and feelings and try new behavior. But doing so in a fluid and artful way can sometimes be elusive, even for the most experience clinicians.

This workshop will offer an intellectual and experiential (re) introduction to ACT, one that ties ACT to its roots in behavior analysis without getting overly technical. Participants will learn to facilitate ACT in a functional way – in other words, in a way that is acutely attuned to core behavior change processes undergirding ACT’s treatment model. By doing so, participants will better understand the true heart of ACT beneath its heart-felt techniques and interventions.

Objectives: The attendee will be able to:
1. Observe core ACT processes occurring in vivo within the therapeutic relationship.
2. Connect mid-level terms (acceptance, defusion) to basic behavioral terms: reinforcement, operant conditioning.
3. Pay attention to opportunities to reinforce moves in the direction of greater flexibility in their clients.
4. Observe how their own inflexibility can get in the way of supporting the greater flexibility of their clients.
5. Use the psychological flexibility construct as a means of getting out of ACT process confusion (e.g., "do I use acceptance or defusion at this moment?")
6. Utilize ACT procedures (e.g., metaphors, experiential exercises) in a way that is more tied to function and context.

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