Wilson & Murrell, 2004

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APA Citation: 

Wilson, K. G., & Murrell, A. R. (2004). Values work in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Setting a Course for Behavioral Treatment. In Hayes, S. C., Follette, V. M., & Linehan, M. (Eds.), Mindfulness & Acceptance: Expanding the cognitive-behavioral tradition (pp. 120-151). New York: Guilford Press.

Publication Topic: 
ACT: Conceptual
Behavior Analysis: Conceptual
Publication Type: 
values, behavior therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Relational Frame Theory, RFT, ACT, relational conditioning

This chapter focuses on the potential relationship between values-oriented interventions and behavior therapy procedures. Throughout, we attempt to make the connection between values and emerging issues in the behavior therapy movement. Values work has the potential to fundamentally alter our client’s relationship with adversity. Answers to questions about acceptance are always context dependent. When acceptance of adversity is placed in the context of making a difference in an important life domain, acceptance becomes more acceptable. Mindfulness can be practiced for its own sake, but we do therapy to make a difference in people’s lives. Values work can provide targets for mindfulness, when “mind fields” obstruct our client’s ability to move forward in their lives. Finally, in the domain of relationships, both the therapeutic relationship as well as other relationships in our client’s lives, focusing on values can make the hard work inherent in relationships possible.

If we are correct in our assessment of the need for such interventions, we are left with the task of producing a robust science of human purpose, meaning and values. Such a science could potentially help us to open up our clients’ lives. Individuals live in a psychological world. In that world they “couldn’t” have done anything except what they have been doing. When we teach mindfulness, or do exposure or defusion of other sorts, the client’s psychological world expands. They come to inhabit a world with more flexibility and therefore more possibilities. It may seem odd to speak of liberation and behavior therapy in the same sentence. However, the client who has two options instead of one has been liberated in a very real sense. Such liberation is the aim of this work.

This is my favorite thing I ever wrote. The file is big, so it is best to download it with a broadband connection.
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