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1 ACT With Love Russ Harris ACT World Conference July 2009 www.act-with-love.com.

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Presentation on theme: "1 ACT With Love Russ Harris ACT World Conference July 2009 www.act-with-love.com."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 ACT With Love Russ Harris ACT World Conference July 2009

2 2 The Aim Of ACT Cultivate Psychological Flexibility: Be Present Open Up Do What Matters

3 3 The Essence Of ACT ACT= LOVE Letting go Opening up Valuing Engaging

4 4 ACT In A Nutshell Psychological Flexibility Be present, Open up Do what matters The Present Moment Be Here Now Defusion Watch Your Thinking Acceptance Open Up Values Know What Matters Committed Action Do What It Takes Self-as-context Pure Awareness

5 5 Be Present Psychological Flexibility Open Up Do What Matters Defusion Contact With the Present Moment Self-as-Context Committed Action Values Acceptance

6 6 2 Nifty Acronyms How to DRAIN the vitality from a relationship: Disconnection Reactivity Avoidance Inside-your-mind Neglecting values

7 7 2 Nifty Acronyms How to increase the vitality in a relationship: Letting go Opening up Valuing Engaging

8 8 Taking A History Whats the problem? -Can you tell me about a recent event that represents the main issue(s)? -What have you tried so far to fix this? How did it work? What has it cost?

9 9 Taking A History Relationship history: how did you meet, what attracted you, wedding day etc. What do you appreciate in your relationship & your partner, currently? What did you appreciate in your relationship & your partner back then?

10 10 Taking A History On a scale of 1-10, how much work are you willing to do to improve the relationship?

11 11 Stay or leave? Assess pros & cons of each Have you given it your best shot? Whichever option you choose, youll need to make room for anxiety, doubt, worry etc Sitting on the fence metaphor Live by your values, whether you stay or leave

12 12 Taking A History Validate each partners pain Facilitate compassion: What does it feel like for you when he/she does that? Model factual description versus judgment & criticism Differences versus defects (Jacobson, ICBT) Draw out values wherever possible

13 13 Acceptance & Change Each partner typically starts from this: You need to change … …but accept me as I am! How does it feel to be looked at as a problem? Think of everything thats wrong with your partner. Now imagine someone saying this to you!

14 14 6 Things Each Partner Can Do 1. Stop acting in ways that make it worse 2. Clarify and act on your values: be more like the partner you ideally want to be 3. Accept what is out of your control 4. Notice & reward behavior you like 5. Facilitate change via effective negotiation & communication skills 6. Create rituals to cultivate affection, warmth, fun, sensuality, sexuality, intimacy etc.

15 15 6 Things Each Partner Can Do The best outcome is likely if both partners do these things. No two partners will do these things to the same extent. Most approaches focus heavily on 4,5 & 6 (trying to influence your partners behavior) In ACT, we focus first and foremost on 1,2 & 3 Why?

16 16 6 Things Each Partner Can Do 1,2 & 3 are more empowering; you can apply them regardless of what your partner does. The Paradox: If you live by your values, stop trying to change your partner, and instead practice acceptance … often your partner will make positive changes spontaneously!

17 17 Taking A History What sort of partner do you want to be? What sort of relationship do you want to build? - Magic wand - Visualize: self as ideal partner vs self as reactive partner – reflect & share - 10 yr anniversary– partner gives a speech - Valued living questionnaire - Share values

18 18 Typical Core Values Connection Caring Contribution

19 19 Values to Goals Whats a small step you can take? Whats a little thing you could do?

20 20 Values to Goals If your partner actually does that, what difference would it make to you? How will you let them know that?

21 21 Values to Goals If client makes positive changes: What was that like for you? What happened to your relationship as a result? Whats another little step you can take?

22 22 Values to Goals If client doesnt make positive changes: What was that like for you? What happened to your relationship as a result? What got in the way?

23 23 The Barriers to change: F.E.A.R. Official ACT version: Fusion Evaluation Avoidance Reason-giving

24 24 The Barriers to change: F.E.A.R. Alternative version: Fusion Excessive goals Avoidance Remoteness from values

25 25 The Antidote to FEAR is DARE Defusion Acceptance Realistic goals Embrace values

26 26 Key Issues 4 approaches to any problem situation 1. Leave 2. Stay & Change what can be changed 3. Stay & Accept what cant be changed & live by your values 4. Stay & Give up & do stuff that makes it worse

27 27 Key Issues Behavior change 101: Whats in your control, and whats not? Carrot versus stick

28 28 Key Issues Communication 101: Ask clearly for what you want, (and explain why) Express clearly what you dont want, (and why) Boundaries & consequences As you do this, be the partner you want to be! Facilitate compassion: openness & vulnerability

29 29 Key Issues Facilitate compassion: openness & vulnerability Create meaningful rituals

30 30 Key Issues ACCEPTANCE On a journey of love, you will soon encounter pain Can you make room for both?

31 31 Key Issues ACCEPTANCE Observe: Breathe: Allow I notice Im feeling x Im having the thought that.. Get present; ground yourself If necessary leave the situation If you do leave the situation, practice mindfulness & acceptance (practice letting go of unhelpful stories)

32 32 Key Issues Once grounded, ask yourself What sort of partner do I want to be? What are my values here? If I could be that ideal partner, I would respond by doing … Then take action, guided by those values Visualize/write/rehearse those responses

33 33 Key Issues In other words: Be present, open up & do what matters! This is an act of … Letting go Opening up Valuing Engaging

34 34 Key Issues CONFLICT Stop arguments in session Do mindfulness then and there Whats your body doing? Breathe into it. Whats your mind saying? Name it. Always come back to workability: What sort of things do you say & do when this happens? How does that work in the short term? Does it help your relationship in the long term?

35 35 Key Issues CONFLICT What judgments does your mind make about him/her? What happens if you buy those judgments? Im making the judgment that.. Naming the story; putting it on a card

36 36 Key Issues CONFLICT Being right versus being loving Im right; youre wrong

37 37 Key Issues CONFLICT Distinguish values from rules What are your rules? What are your partners rules? Where did these rules come from? What happens when you fuse with them?

38 38 Key Issues CONFLICT : Defusion of Rigid rules Expect them Notice them Name them

39 39 Key Issues CONFLICT Discuss inevitability Increase awareness of triggers Increase acceptance Be wary of simple solutions ! For many issues there is no simple solution: can that be accepted? Learn to discuss difficult issues with mindfulness and compassion

40 40 Key Issues CONFLICT Pet arguments Name your stories Being right versus being loving But vs And Anger management if necessary (really conflict management: managing action not emotion!)

41 41 Key Issues CONFLICT Repair attempts Whats the tiniest step you could take that might repair some of the damage? Acknowledge & accept repair attempts (John Gottman: 7 Principles of Making Marriage Work) Turn conflict into compassion. How? Vulnerability and openness

42 42 Key Issues REFRAMING PROBLEMS How can I grow from this? What can I learn from this? Imagine your partner is a personal trainer or life coach that you have hired to help you grow: what skills can you learn, what strengths can you develop, as a result of your sessions?

43 43 Key Issues THE PERFECT PARTNER Do they exist? Do you always act the way you expect yourself to act? The Perfect Partner Story

44 44 Key Issues CHANGING BEHAVIOR Willingness to change, versus wanting to change Facilitate willingness through values Distinguish values-driven change from: resentful change/ guilt-induced change/ trying to keep her happy/ trying to put up with him

45 45 Key Issues CHANGING BEHAVIOR Identify barriers: FEAR Discuss inevitability of relapse When your partner screws up, how will you respond? When you screw up, how will you respond?

46 46 Key Issues LOVE Distinguish the action of love from the feeling of love Magic wand

47 47 Key Issues INTIMACY Be present Share valued activities Practice connection Facilitate acceptance of vulnerability/anxiety Applies to psychological, emotional and physical intimacy Eyes on

48 48 Key Issues SELF-COMPASSION 3 key components (Neff, K.D. 2003) Mindfulness Kindness Commonality COMPASSION FOR YOUR PARTNER Facilitate through cultivating vulnerability & openness

49 49 Key Issues FORGIVENESS Give yourself what was there before Do it for yourself Anger & resentment – costs of fusion Respond with mindfulness Not just about letting go! The aim is to let it come, let it stay and let it go - as it pleases

50 50 Key Issues FORGIVENESS RITUAL Each partner writes:- The thoughts, feelings/ memories Ive been holding on to are … How holding on has hurt me & our relationship: Commitment to letting all this old stuff come and go without holding on to it Choose a special place, read it out, do something symbolic (eg burn it & scatter the ashes) then do something to connect lovingly

51 51 Key Issues TRUST Distinguish the action of trust from the feeling of trust (not a true feeling as such; more a sense – strong cognitive component) No control over feelings of trust – only over the actions. Balance values around trust with values around self-protection Mindful trust versus blind trust

52 52 Key Issues WHAT BEHAVIOR IS UNACCEPTABLE? Follow all legal obligations & be transparent about it. After that, it is up to the client to decide. The extreme case: domestic violence. You can share your feelings, in a defused, open, accepting, non-judgmental manner - but do not try to enforce your beliefs on the client.

53 53 Key Issues WHAT BEHAVIOR IS UNACCEPTABLE? Deal with your own stuff. Focus on building the therapeutic relationship and making a safe space for the client. Help them increase their psychological flexibility. Then let them choose for themselves.


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