Presentation on theme: "ACT With Love Russ Harris ACT World Conference July 2009"— Presentation transcript:
1 ACT With Love Russ Harris ACT World Conference July 2009
2 The Aim Of ACT Cultivate Psychological Flexibility: Be Present Open Up Do What Matters
3 The Essence Of ACTACT= LOVELetting goOpening upValuingEngaging
4 ACT In A Nutshell The Present Moment Be Here Now Acceptance Values Open UpValuesKnow What MattersPsychologicalFlexibilityBe present, Open upDo what mattersDefusionWatch Your ThinkingCommitted ActionDo What It TakesSelf-as-contextPure Awareness
5 Psychological Flexibility Be PresentContact With the Present MomentSelf-as-ContextPsychological FlexibilityDefusionCommitted ActionValuesDo What MattersOpen UpAcceptance
6 2 Nifty Acronyms How to DRAIN the vitality from a relationship: DisconnectionReactivityAvoidanceInside-your-mindNeglecting values
7 2 Nifty Acronyms How to increase the vitality in a relationship: Letting goOpening upValuingEngaging
8 Taking A History What’s 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 Taking A HistoryRelationship 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 Taking A HistoryOn a scale of 1-10, how much work are you willing to do to improve the relationship?
11 Stay or leave? Assess pros & cons of each Have you given it your best shot?Whichever option you choose, you’ll need to make room for anxiety, doubt, worry etcSitting on the fence metaphorLive by your values, whether you stay or leave
12 Taking A History Validate each partner’s 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 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 that’s wrong with your partner.Now imagine someone saying this to you!
14 6 Things Each Partner Can Do Stop acting in ways that make it worseClarify and act on your values: be more like the partner you ideally want to beAccept what is out of your controlNotice & reward behavior you likeFacilitate change via effective negotiation & communication skillsCreate rituals to cultivate affection, warmth, fun, sensuality, sexuality, intimacy etc.
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 partner’s behavior)In ACT, we focus first and foremost on 1,2 & 3Why?
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 Taking A History What sort of partner do you want to be? What sort of relationship do you want to build?Magic wandVisualize: self as ideal partner vs self as reactive partner – reflect & share10 yr anniversary– partner gives a speechValued living questionnaireShare values
19 Values to Goals What’s a small step you can take? What’s a little thing you could do?
20 Values to GoalsIf your partner actually does that, what difference would it make to you?How will you let them know that?
21 Values to Goals If client makes positive changes: What was that like for you?What happened to your relationship as a result?What’s another little step you can take?
22 Values to Goals If client doesn’t make positive changes: What was that like for you?What happened to your relationship as a result?What got in the way?
23 The Barriers to change: F.E.A.R. Official ACT version:FusionEvaluationAvoidanceReason-giving
24 The Barriers to change: F.E.A.R. Alternative version:FusionExcessive goalsAvoidanceRemoteness from values
25 The Antidote to FEAR is DARE DefusionAcceptanceRealistic goalsEmbrace values
26 Key Issues 4 approaches to any problem situation 1. Leave 2. Stay & Change what can be changed3. Stay & Accept what can’t be changed & live by your values4. Stay & Give up & do stuff that makes it worse
27 Key Issues Behavior change 101: What’s in your control, and what’s not?Carrot versus stick
28 Key Issues Communication 101: Ask clearly for what you want, (and explain why)Express clearly what you don’t want, (and why)Boundaries & consequencesAs you do this, be the partner you want to be!Facilitate compassion: openness & vulnerability
30 Key IssuesACCEPTANCEOn a journey of love, you will soon encounter painCan you make room for both?
31 Key Issues ACCEPTANCE Observe: Breathe: Allow I notice I’m feeling x I’m having the thought that ..Get present; ground yourselfIf necessary leave the situationIf you do leave the situation, practice mindfulness & acceptance (practice letting go of unhelpful stories)
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 valuesVisualize/write/rehearse those responses
33 Key Issues In other words: Be present, open up & do what matters! This is an act of …Letting goOpening upValuingEngaging
34 Key Issues CONFLICT Stop arguments in session Do mindfulness then and thereWhat’s your body doing? Breathe into it.What’s 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 Key Issues CONFLICT What judgments does your mind make about him/her? What happens if you buy those judgments?I’m making the judgment that ..Naming the story; putting it on a card
36 Key Issues CONFLICT Being right versus being loving I’m right; you’re wrong
37 Key Issues CONFLICT Distinguish values from rules What are your rules? What are your partner’s rules?Where did these rules come from?What happens when you fuse with them?
38 Key Issues CONFLICT : Defusion of Rigid rules Expect them Notice them Name them
39 Key Issues CONFLICT Discuss inevitability Increase awareness of triggersIncrease acceptanceBe 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 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 Key Issues CONFLICT Repair attempts What’s 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 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 Key Issues THE PERFECT PARTNER Do they exist? Do you always act the way you expect yourself to act?The Perfect Partner Story
44 Key Issues CHANGING BEHAVIOR Willingness to change, versus wanting to changeFacilitate willingness through valuesDistinguish values-driven change from: resentful change/ guilt-induced change/ trying to ‘keep her happy’/ trying to ‘put up with him’
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 Key IssuesLOVEDistinguish the action of love from the feeling of loveMagic wand
47 Key Issues INTIMACY Be present Share valued activities Practice connectionFacilitate acceptance of vulnerability/anxietyApplies to psychological, emotional and physical intimacy‘Eyes on’
48 Key Issues SELF-COMPASSION 3 key components (Neff, K.D. 2003) MindfulnessKindnessCommonalityCOMPASSION FOR YOUR PARTNERFacilitate through cultivating vulnerability & openness
49 Key Issues FORGIVENESS Give yourself what was there before Do it for yourselfAnger & resentment – costs of fusionRespond with mindfulnessNot just about ‘letting go’!The aim is to let it come, let it stay and let it go - ‘as it pleases’
50 Key Issues FORGIVENESS RITUAL Each partner writes:- The thoughts, feelings/ memories I’ve 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 itChoose a special place, read it out, do something symbolic (eg burn it & scatter the ashes) then do something to connect lovingly
51 Key IssuesTRUSTDistinguish 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-protectionMindful trust versus blind trust
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 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.