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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy


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So I'm 16-sessions in doing Acceptance and Commitment therapy. I like it. I think it makes complete sense. But I'm not very good at it. I really have trouble connecting with the present and I have not developed my Observer Self. I tend to be too analytical and I am forever analysing and planning ahead. It's frustrating me because I thought I'd have more success by now. One of my biggest issues is that when I get anxious, I just go into Anxiety-Mode and it results in panic and anger and I really don't want those behaviours modelled to my children, so it is imperative that I get this under control.

I also think my tdoc could spend more time doing activities with me and less time talking. That soudns awful but I think some sessions are too talky - me talking in response to her questions - and I just want to focus on developing the skills. That could just be me being impatient though!

Is there anyone else doing this therapy?

How do you find it? What do you think?

Bern :)

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Hi Bern!!

Nice to see you again!!

We were discussing learning about different models of therapy and you posted at the perfect time!!

I looked at that website and its a bit complicated for my time of 1:30 am. But I would love to learn more about it. I'm finding that 'mindfulness' can mean lots of different things. I can see the difficulty of this type of therapy. It may be very good, but for the patient it could be difficult to wrap one's mind around these concepts and then actually utilize them.

Keep going and Good Luck!!

db

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December_brigette! so nice to see another familiar name. I have been thinking about you. I hope you and your little one are well?

I agree, these concepts are hard. Well, hard for me. But, I can see their usefulness so I'm pushing on. I like the idea that if you're mindful and present in all situations then you are much more in control and less likely to get caught up in an overtly emotional response or in an onslaught of distorted thoughts.

I guess I should have explained the therapy in the first post.... I might try and do it now:

ACT is about helping you handle painful or unhelpful thoughts and feelings; to be able to let them come and go without getting caught up in them. For me these boil down to a depressed mood and anxiety-reaction. The aim is to be more present and engaged in what you're doing, reduce stress levels,and improve focus and concentration. Humans spend too much time worrying about the future/dwelling on the past. This therapy aims to use mindfulness to focus on what is happening in the moment, and instead of struggling with our experience in the moment, we are open to it, and interested in in.

For me, I am always trying to get rid of the depressed mood, and to be free from the overwhelming anxiety I feel, and because I cannot be rid of them, I end up struggling with the emotions and the thoughts - if I am to practise mindfulness properly, I accept these things as part of who I am, le these feelings and thoughts come in a sit, and instead of trying to get away from them - commit to acting in accordance with my own morals and ethics, and to being present in whatever I am doing.

I think. It's a challenging concept to understand and explain.

Anyway, it's late and I have mindfulness activities to do before bed.

:)

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Hi Bernard, thanks for the thread. :)

I wonder if you are also working on the commitment aspect of ACT (you mention it briefly, I think)? From what I've read about it, you are 'supposed to' decide on your main values and commit to trying to live up to those values? I am more familiar with the mindfulness-aspect of ACT, but the values-aspect has sort of stumped me. On the one hand, because part of my depression has been that I am totally lost and don't know what I want or what is important to me; on the other hand, because I tend to be very perfectionistic and it seems like it would be easy to have those values turn into yet another thing to beat yourself over the head with. (I guess more mindfulness would be required first. :))

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I've not done ACT but I did mindfulness and acceptance modules in DBT. It has helped me a lot, though I have to work to apply this to my life, it hasn't magically become a way of life for me yet (but I hold out hope!) I try to get some mindfulness in most days, though I don't have a formal practice.

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I think Calypte, it would definitely be challenging to do if you weren't sure of what your values are. That part for me is actually the clearest part because I am pretty grounded in the what I believe, who I want to be and how I want to parent (which is one of the biggest motivators for me - being a good Mum to my girls).

I am caught up on the acceptance part! I really struggle to let feelings of depression and anger (which comes from my anxiety) just come in and sit - The concept is that I am to let them come, observe them for what they are and not battle to be rid of them.... BUT I HATE THEM SO MUCH! I just don't want to feel like I'm suffocating while out of the house or trying to make a phone call, you know?

So, at the moment, I can recognise the signs of these feelings, I can know when they are coming and I can try to diffuse them by using things like distraction but I haven't quite made it to accepting them. I still lose my temper loads and still run home when things get too anxious and I stilla void doing anything that I know will trigger these responses. So... only small amounts of progress - which I have trouble accepting too!

Gah. Some days, I think I am too in my head for this kind of therapy!

Titania, what is DBT?

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Anyone else doing acceptance and commitment therapy, and want to chat progress?

Or mindfulness?

Or how impossible it is to hold a burning log without charring your hands (how I feel about trying to accept feelings of anxiety and anger)...

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Hi Bernard! I have a workbook on ACT, but my printer died last year and I've been using that as an excuse not to try (Cuz the worksheets also come on a CD that you can print out.) It does seem interesting. I have done mindfulness in my DBT workbook. It is very difficult, but I find it gets easier. I wish you luck with it!

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Thanks Scatty.

I have to laugh - I tend to not do things for reasons like "My printer stopped working" too. LOL as if there is no other possible way around it, so I just cannot do the activities ;)

I feel like I've made a leap forward. Up till last session, I was getting really caught up on making sure I understood the concepts, and not practising them enough. Since then, I've downloaded some of the listening activities and am spending more time each day trying to up-skill. I have noticed I am getting better at defusion, and opening to a situation - I still really struggle to let anxiety and feelings of discomfort sit, and to make space for them, but it is a process. After all, I am trying to undo habits that I have had my entire life!

I haven't done any CBT or DBT but I think this ACT stuff makes sense to me... Though sometimes I think I would like to just hang out and talk with my therapist - and get stuff off my chest. But I think the practical activities work well, if you can stick them out.

:)

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Oh and Titania! Not crappy or cheesey at all. Completely along the lines of what I have been doing with teh Russ Harris stuff (ACT, and the book "The Happiness Trap"). I almost didn't respond - stupid over-cluttered mind. I have read some of those references, esp the treating anger and anxiety as crying children stuff / showing them love, patience and compassion. Really hard! But very helpful.

And I can hear what you're saying about your Dad. You can get caught up init, or you can let it wash over you. And it can wash and retreat and then surge up again and wash over again. You just have to ride it out. I did manage to do that while I was super angry at work the other day - it took twenty-minutes of sitting at my desk, feeling, consciously acknowledging, letting the anger sit - after a good while I fizzled out. But man, I was wrung out after wards!

Still, a challenge isn't necessarily a bad thing :)

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Bern... so good to see you again.

I really, really like ACT as a model to use working with people. It has all of the useful mindfulness skills of DBT without all the annoying mnemonics, plus cognitive processing of CBT. And I really like that it assumes a certain amount of normalcy in our distres, instead of making everything a symptom of pathology.

I haven't experienced it as a consumer, though.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am actually reading my workbook. It is "The acceptance and commitment therapy for depression." One of my complaints is that they pretty much imply that depression isn't biological. If I wasn't on meds, there's no way I would be able to understand this freakin' therapy. There are confusing parts and weird exercises. I don't wanna picture my own funeral. :)

A lot of it seems promising, however. I like how it hold you to your values, and challenges you to ACT! I'm re-reading a lot and doing some exercises on scrap paper (don't wanna mess up my workbook & again, my printer is broken!) Interesting concepts abound, I'm just slow to comprehend some of it.

What are you working on right now, if you don't mind me asking?

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Hey Scatty,

I find it odd that they don't think it is biological. The stuff I've been reading seems to reckon that it is biology in overdrive (depression and anxiety - I have both). I theorisze, personally :) that humankind has let itself get unhealthy and that our bodies are reacting to our lifestyle/environment - but that is just a crazy-person perspective, you know. :)

I'm doing the mp3 exercises Mindfulness Vol 1/2 from Russ Harris. I find them HARD. Probably because I do them after my kids go to bed when I'm already tired ;) But I have been doing The Happiness Trap activities too and I'm working with an ACT therapist (codenamed: Dr Lady - I love her).

I am trying to force myself into anxious situations this next fortnight, for Dr Lady. We've set goals and I have to give myself a proper chance at practising mindfulness. I am going to take my kids to the park on my own. Even writing it down, fills me with feelings of dread and fear, exhaustion and hopelessness. But it is something that I value (play, freedom, time together, the outdoors) and something that I don't do because I am too anxious about it (dangerous, people, hazards, un-controlled environment etc). We'll see how I go.

It's a process but I think it is a worthwhile one.

Hi Wooster :) I've never done CBT or DBT. I originally was looking for a CBT solution but found Dr Lady and have been impressed by the concepts.

I'm feeling the blues tonight and I'm trying real hard to just let it sit and not well up and flow out into plonky tears, sobs and hiding in bed. I went to our emerging church group. Tried to not be a growling Mumma Bear (or sobbing mess) when my little girl was left out of the play by the bigger girls. Tried to engage in the discussion (on Mary, The Magnificat, and role of church in contemporary society) intelligently and not just flake out because there were so many new people. Gah. I held it together but now that I am home I am teetering between tears and something... I feel awful :( Just letting it sit... trying to make a space for it...

Edited by Bernard
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That is what is so difficult about ACT. To just sit with your feelings and thoughts. Most other therapies have you try to distract yourself, or challenge what you're feeling. Leaving room for the negative ruminations is so hard! I think this therapy would be helpful for my SO because of his chronic pain. There seem to be many examples in my book about people using it for that. I am going to finish the first few chapters and see how I do.

ETA: I hope you have fun at the park. I always had a hard time bringing my kids outside too, I totally get it.

Edited by scatty
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See, I think that part of it is recognising that even though these thoughts and feelings feel bad they don't have to be negative. Their negativity comes from the story they sell us and the way we buy into them. See, if you start to think of them as just thoughts and feeling - then they lose some of their power.

Which - I have not yet mastered!

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Even if the thought is a negative thought, and you think it about yourself, that doesn't make it true. It's just a thought. It's seperate from yourself. Fushion is what they called it. I think I'm starting to get it. I also learned about siren songs of emotional avoidance . Also, how my way to avoid depression, made it worse. Lots of interesting stuff. I read my first 3 chapters, but only did one exercise. It feels wrong to use a notebook and I certainly won't write in my workbook (gasp!) And did I tell you my printer is broken? :)

Keep sharing what your learning here, if you don;t mind. Or maybe start a blog. Did you have fun at the park?

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:-) at printer. Maybe you could use a lead pencil in your workbook (eek) :-)

Yes, fushion is right. I'm fused to all sorts of crazy ideas.

Haven't made it to the park yet. Panicked and didn't go. Will try tomorrow. Maybe...

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I hope you do get to the park tomorrow. I know the anxiety I used to feel being outside with my kids alone. Do you know of any friends/relatives/neighbors that could go with you?

I stated a notebook for my workbook! I just had to admit I was toio cheap to buy a new printer. But the CD that came with my workbook also has guided meditation exercises on it, so hopefully I can do those. Although this computer is from 1998, so it could still all go wrong!

Have fun with those little ones, inside or outside.

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No park - but plenty of practice being anxious as my husband is in hospital right now. Unexpectedly. For surgery. My anxiety is through the roof but I am pushing on with the techniques, keeping it together. The desire to crawl into a hole and sleep, is great,but I need to look after my kidlets and manage the house and visit the husband when he comes out of his operation. Gah. It's worse (feels worse) because we've been through this op before - years ago - and the outcome was TERRIBLE. I am fused to negative ideas that I am desperately trying to break. ..

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Oh no! That's horrible news. Maybe try some meditation when the kids are napping? I would be anxious too. It's good you realize you are fused to that memory. Just realize this is not then. Let us know how hubby is doing later. This must have come as such a shock to you!

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