Self as Context

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Purpose: Make contact with a sense of self that is a safe and consistent perspective from which to observe and accept all changing inner experiences.

Method: Mindfulness and noticing the continuity of consciousness

When to use: When the person needs a solid foundation in order to be able to experience experiences; when identifying with a conceptualized self

Examples of techniques designed to increase self as context

Observer exercise Notice who is noticing in various domains of experience
Therapeutic relationship Model unconditional acceptance of client’s experience.
Metaphors for context Box with stuff; house with furniture; chessboard
“confidence” con = with; fidence = fidelity or faith – self fidelity
Riding a bicycle You are always falling off balance, yet you move forward
Experiential centering Make contact with self-perspective
Practicing unconditional acceptance Permission to be – accept self as is
Identifying content as content Separating out what changes and what does not
Identify programming Two computers exercise
Programming process Content is always being generated – generate some in session together
Process vs outcome Practice pulling back into the present from thoughts of the future/past
ACT generated content Thoughts/feelings about self (even “good” ones) don’t substitute for experience
Self as object Describe the conceptualized self, both “good” and “bad”
Others as objects Relationship vs being right
Connecting at “board level” Practice being a human with humans
Getting back on the horse Connecting to the fact that they will always move in and out of perspective of self-as-context, in session and out.
Identifying when you need it Occasions where “getting present” is indicated (learning to apply first aid)
Contrast observer self with conceptualized self Pick an identity exercise
Forgiveness Identify painful experiences as content; separate from context

These clinical materials were assembled by Elizabeth Gifford, Steve Hayes, and Kirk Stroshal