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Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

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Posted

Is anyone doing ACT therapy? I am learning ACT throgh a workbook, and find that it is helping me a lot. I am finding out what I value and how I can go towards my true north.

Here is some info about it. http://www.actmadesimple.com/about_act

Anyone want to talk about your experiences with ACT, or your successes or struggles with it?

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Posted

Which workbook are you using?

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I'm not too familiar with ACT, but my tdoc leans heavily on this modality in her practice. Initially we focused on identifying and building upon my core values and have since shifted our focus toward mindfulness and DBT. I like the idea of linking my actions with my core values; it helps remind me of what I truly believe in and stand for. I'd love to hear anything you have to share about how you are using ACT therapy and what you've found useful! I have a lot to learn!

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Posted

I am using this workbook with the accompying CD. http://www.amazon.com/The-Mindfulness-Acceptance-Workbook-Depression/dp/1572245484

I am working on mindfulness, which is difficult for me. The CD has some exercises that were helpful. I have learned to observe my thoughts by using my "observere self." Trying to understand that just because I think it, it doesn't mean it's true. Just letting the thoughts be there. They call it "making room for" uncomfortable thoughts. Also diffusion, where you take your worries, thoughts, etc, and send them off like leaves on a stream or boxcars on a train, or clouds rolling by.

It teaches that rational language is good for survival, but not so good with conquering negative thoughts. The wise mind is what you should listen to, but the rational mind will try to fight this.

I highly recommend this workbook. They have one for anxiety too, but I think it's written by different authors, although it too got good reviews.

One part is learning to avoid "excessive" suffering. Take the cause of your suffereing, and any worrying and trying to talk yourself out of how you're feeling can make the suffering worse. Hence, excessive suffering. By identifying that you do this, you can become aware of it, and instead use wise mind, and keep living up to your values, even when you are uncomfortable doing so.

If we fuse with our story line (past), it does no good. Take a different outlook, change what you can and accept what you can't. There is much more. If anyone has this workbook, or is willing to buy it, I would be open to going through it again and chatting about the exercises.

I have gotten more out of this workbook than with years of talk therapy.

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Posted

Thanks, scatty!

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I'm still working through ACT stuff with my therapist. I have found it is getting easier, even though essentially my moods and anxiety have been getting worse, I feel like I am coping pretty well.

I've found a lot of the mp3 activities from Russ Harris useful. I also liked the activities from The Happiness Trap. Mostly though doing it with an ACT therapist has made the biggest impact.

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Posted

I noticed that the website has a link to free resources, and there are downloadable worksheets and mp3s that are supposed to tie into Russ Harris' book on ACT "The Happiness Trap." That book seems like a good intro to ACT. It got excellent reviews as well.

Remember to go through the CrazyStore link to amazon if you buy anything there, so CB can profit a bit.

I'm having a hard time living to my value as a good mother. Some of you may know that I'm having a hard time with my adult daughter, and using the skills is difficult because I have a lot of guilt that I let her down in some way. I just have to remember to keep myself open to her, but not put up with any disrespect. It's a tricky situation.

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Posted

That must be hard, Scatty. I'm on the other end - young daughters (2 & 4) and I don't feel I am living to my values either.

Keep at it. I have the mp3s from the Happiness Trap site... not sure if they can be bought through Amazon but they are well worth it, I feel...

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Posted

I have listened to the two exercises he gives free on his site. I may buy some in the future. One was a handscan and the other was "just accept what you are feeling now" type meditation. I wish I could take an ecourse, but I think those are for therapists.

The workbook is going great, re-reading some parts of it now. It would be so much better to have some feedback, however. My pdoc seemed interested in this type of therapy, and hopefully will be hiring a therapist soon. I will definitely share the book with them and re do some of the exercises.

I feel like every time I read a chaper, I get something new out of it. I may try the one for anxiety, because my fear of getting behind the wheel is getting ridiculous!

Be well all!

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Posted

Glad it is going well, Scatty. I found myself applying ACT principles at work yesterday without even consciously making that choice - I just caught myself afterwards and did a little cheer. I also ended up in a discussion with one of my co-workers about it. His wife is going through one of her worst ever bouts of depression - she's highly medicated but not managing. He is going to gently suggest my ACT therapist to her.

I did the handscan as one of my first activities with my tdoc - and even though it is kinda awkward to do with someone - I found it an accessible start.

:) Bern

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Posted

I am so jealous that you have a therapist trained in ACT. Has it just not caught on yet in the U.S? Very few here even know about this kind of therapy. I would have to go to Boston and pay high out-of-pocket fees. The same with DBT over here. I couldn't find a class outside Boston, so I got a workbook.

Hopefully, there will be a little less emphasis on meds, and more emphasis on therapy-so when you find the right meds-the rest is easier! Hope that made sense!

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Posted (edited)

ACT isn't as common in the US yet.

Sadly, in my opinion.

I think it does a REALLY good job of addressing some of the "higher functioning" needs that humans have, and I like that it does it up front... whereas DBT focuses on controlling the most problematic behaviors first.

Out here in Seattle, birthplace of DBT, there's DBT EVERYWHERE!

Edited by Wooster

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Posted

I'm having such a hard time right now (details in my blog.) I am working on diffusing some negative thoughts, but it doesn't seem to be helping. Maybe my problem right now will be better helped with my DBT skills. I just wish life were easier. It always seems to me just surviving is hard work, and people expect me to THRIVE and live up to my VALUES! :wall:

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Posted

Hmm, this kind of therapy sounds VERY appealing to me. I just completed a DBT IOP program for women with trauma history, and I don't really have much problems regarding the "target behaviors" (i.e. self-harm, intense angry reactions, therapy interfering behaviors, chronic suicidality, substance abuse), at least not compared with the vast majority of others in the program I was in. I was able to relate the modules and skills to my own issues and "higher functioning needs," which is predominantly anxiety, attachment (and detachment) issues, existential and "quarter life" crises, etc. So maybe I was trying to somehow make DBT into more of an ACT approach.

I'm in Philly, which is the birthplace of CBT, of which ACT is a branch, so I'm crossing my fingers that as I therapist-search I may find someone who follows that approach (or at least is informed in that way.) I'm considering getting that book that you linked to, but I don't really struggle much with depression (I have that diagnosis for "insurance purposes" really, I believe.) I'm gonna check out if there's a more generic workbook on it or a workbook on ACT for anxiety disorders. Thanks for the info-- it's pretty eye opening!

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Posted

I don't really know how big ACT is here - I just feel very fortunate that one of the few clinical psychologists in my area, was an ACT practitioner. . . It does help. It's difficult though, and I have days when I just cannot diffuse. When that happens, I have to try to figure out why - what story am I buying into? What is holding me to those thoughts?

Scatty, you have a lot going on at the moment, sometimes it's ok to just survive and know that while you are not living up to your own expectations, you are living with your values as a guide. You know what I mean? Like, you might not always reach the point you want to be at, but at least you're on the right track...

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Posted

KrazyKat- Yes, they have one for anxiety that also comes with a CD. It's by different authors, but got good reviews. There's also "the happiness Trap" which is from the creator af ACT, I think, Russ Harris. I don't know if it's a workbook, but his site offers free downloads for worksheets for it, so I assume there are exercises in it.

Bernard- thatnks so much! Yesterday I felt hopeless. I strayed from my path a bit, but trying to get on track today.

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Posted

ACT in action

How I Used my ACT Techniques Today (from my CB blog... thought it might be helpful in here)

Small success today for me - using my ACT techniques. Had to go to SIL's wedding. This equals high anxiety situation for me: managing my kidlets (flowergirls) and my husband ;) and having to socialise with family,friends and strangers - and doing all these things all at once.

But - somehow, I managed to just let all my negative thoughts about these kinds of situations come in, and go right on by - I (consciously) didn't fuse to them, instead, I focussed on making contact with the present - what was going on at any given moment - and I reminded myself that I value family, friends, and marriage, and that I was committed to making every event count.

I had to use breathing techniques. I snapped at DD#1 before we left the house, it was a split-second loss, and I was so disappointed that I snapped at her. She was flinging her water bottle around, getting water all over the house and messing up her hair. She was a flowergirl and I had taken so long to make her (long, curly) hair stunning. And seeing as though we were rushing to get organised and out the door, it was a hassle I just didn't need. Even so, it felt awful to snap at her.

It was a timely reminder to remain focused. After that, every time I felt angry and tense (my anxiety leads invariably to outbursts of anger) I just reminded myself to breathe and I'd pause to consider what my body was doing. It really helped to get through those feelings.

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Posted

It sounds like you handled it with grace! That is a tough situation, and you got through it! I know how it feels to snap at the kidlets, but all you can do is do better next time. I'm stressed to the core right now, and re-reading my ACT book on fushion and how our mind "fishes" us, and tries to egg us on. Just trying not to fuse to anything and let it pass by. Breathing mindfully. We can do it!

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Posted

I don't know if any of you know of the bullseye evaluation, but I am so far away from my bullseye right now! So far off track. I'm only meditating for 10 minutes a day, when I could do so much more. I want to look into volunteering somewhere, but our car needs repairs. I feel stuck. I feel like I am accepting the bad, making room for the anxiety, and my mind is chattering away. Frustrating!

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Posted

I know the bullseye.I started off way off target too. Small steps. The fact that you're now aware of all the bits and pieces is a step. I hate that loads of literature says that ACT is a "fast therapy" because for me it has been slow - slow but effective. I don't know if it is in one of your workbooks - but one thing my tdoc had me do was do chores mindfully. Like,really focus on every little part of a particular chore. For me, it was washing the dishes - as I do it (usually) a couple of times a day, so I had to really notice my hands, the water, the movement etc and it just helped to reinforce mindfulness and refocus.

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Posted

Thanks Bern!

Does anyone want to discuss some of the exercises from my book, or any other book on ACT? Just generally, I'm not gonna post worksheets or anything.

If you have an interest, speak up!

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Posted

Don't everyone reply at once! hehe! Here is one exercise:

If you were presumed dead for some reason, what would people say about you? Write what you think your spouse, kids, friends, co-workers, and community would say. Now in each of those catagories, write what else you would have wanted them to say. Those are what they call your "true North." The direction your actions should take you to be living up to your values. People will remember you by your actions, not what you have going on in your brain.

This was an enlightening exercise for me. I found out that I was far away from living the kind of life I really wanted. Now I'm slowly changing things to be heading more to my "true north." Anyone care to share, or comment?

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Posted

That's a really powerful question, scatty.

I like it.

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Posted

Thanks Wooster! I love that this type of therapy really makes you think about what's important in the long run. I'm continuing to get a lot out of it.

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Posted

My therapist made a good point last night about acceptance and showing yourself compassion. She asked me,

"What do you do if your little girl comes up and says, 'Mummy, no one played with me at pre-school today' and is really sad?"

I replied, "I give her a big cuddle and tell her that I love her and that maybe someone will play with her the next day."

She followed with, "Now apply the same principle to yourself. When you don't meet your own expectations and feel like a failure, instead of beating yourself up over it and throwing yourself into a guilt/sad/depressed cycle. Hold that feeling, then show yourself the same compassion."

We applied it to feeling like a failure after I lost my temper the other day. Instead of beating myself up over it, I need to hold that incident and recognise, 'it is what it is' it is just something that happened, not an indication of my worth. I need to then treat myself with kindness so I can find ways to act in accordance with my values next time.

I found that really helpful.

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