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Re: ACT » pseudoname

Posted by mayzee on July 28, 2006, at 21:37:24

Dear pseudoname,

Wow! Thanks for your fabulous & comprehensive reply. I've been feeling down the past few days so have been too overwhelmed to reply. But I really appreciate all the info & opinion you're sharing! Thanks for explaining both what you like as well as what you don't like about ACT.

I really didn't know more about ACT than what was in the Time article and what a friend from my meditation class (who is a psychologist) told me about it. Of course, she & I were interested in the mindfulness angle.

Re. the commitment part. I know that one of my biggest struggles is not having a good sense of "who I am", what I'm meant to do in this life, not having a passion to help drive me. So the idea that ACT was a therapy that would include/address values & commitment seemed very appealing to me.

Of course reading your post, I see that what I hoped would be there --i.e., how to find/develop commitment if you don't already have it-- is not part of ACT. (just what I *don't* need, any more guilt for "not committing" to something) But, following your examples, I certainly can look back and see how I have made commitments in the past. I think many of those past commitments weren't so healthy; though some were.

Sorry also to hear that you don't think much of the Values piece. I had an idea that the values would be used to give guidance toward Commitment. Who knows, maybe the ACT values stuff might be useful for me; I'll take a look.

> More and more I suspect that mindful acceptance ... is the bedrock of therapy and emotionally "healthy" living.

AMEN! That has been the biggest revelation to me in the past few years since first being exposed to mindfulness meditation, and some buddhist psychology. As I said elsewhere, I think that has been the most helpful aspect of anything therapeutic I've done... trying to stop struggling against what is already there; accepting it, whatever it is, because it is already there.

> Hayes's emphasis on it, and his techniques for & discussion of how to go about "finding" acceptance within yourself, I think, are excellent.

That makes me want to read Hayes, if for nothing else... How to go about finding acceptance within yourself.

> I also like the idea that the goal is a better life, not simply feeling better in this precise way right now or all the time. ..."Remember, Your Goal Is A Better Life."
Wow, making that shift in perspective could really have a profound effect. Well, there you go; that's the goal to be committed to! I'm interested in how that plays out re. living in the present moment, vs. being focused on the future.

Well, I'm still interested in learning more about ACT. Would you recommend "Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life" as the best place to start?

Thanks again for taking the time to share your insights!!!



Re: ACT » mayzee
Posted by pseudoname on July 27, 2006, at 15:18:48

In reply to Re: What I found… re. ACT » pseudoname, posted by mayzee on July 27, 2006, at 12:49:05

> Hey, Mayzee.
> > Have you done therapy with an ACT therapist? Or are you doing it on your own?
> I found ACT online in 2003 & got the books and a bunch of journal articles. Then I found an ACT therapist who got her degree in Steve Hayes's program. She and I didn't hit it off, however: she didn't listen to me and it was like she was playing a tape with her ACT stuff. Terrible! I already knew the words to everything she was v-e-r-r-r-y s-l-o-o-o-w-ly reciting to me.
> So that didn't last. I guess no matter what brand of therapy, you still need some personal connection and rapport with the therapist.
> So I'm just trying the techniques on my own.
> > I think the commitment part is what might make a difference.
> I hope so. I think explicitly recognizing that one has (or can make) a commitment to a good project can be really helpful and keep one motivated and on-target.
> But I think the Hayes/ACT treatment of commitment is specious and sloppy and can really waste time and put undue guilt on a person for "not committing" to something.
> Hayes never says how to generate commitment or where it comes from, for example, but he implies that it's morally essential. His "Commitment" examples all seem to be simply people saying out loud that they have made a commitment, rather than actually showing us what a commitment *is* — apart from announcing that we have made one.
> I think if you *have* a commitment, that's seriously excellent and being aware of it will be great! But if you don't have it, you're not going to just summon it or force yourself to get it. Commitment seems to be for Hayes some kind of feeling, but he's not able to be explicit (with himself) about that.
> I think it might be better to look back at what one has already done and not done to see what sorts of commitments one apparently *has* made (or is capable of making). Like, maybe, one hasn't engaged in suicide (or hasn't tried it again) despite, it might seem, having "lots" of reason to. So, one is at least partially committed to Life. Despite getting what seems like minimal overall benefit, I've put tons of effort for years into psychotherapy and self-therapy; so, I'd conclude I seem committed to doing what it takes to get better. Now, it's better for me, I think, if I do in fact realize that I seem to have such a commitment and I use it and build on it, maybe.
> But if I don't have a commitment in some area, what's the big deal? Absolute mountains of good have been done in this world by people who weren't really "committed" to what they were doing. Rather than wait for some frisson of commitment to seize one, I think it's fine to just do things half-heartedly.
> I dunno. I find so much of what Hayes & the ACT people write to be poorly informed, maddeningly sloppy, smug and over-involved, with terribly weak reasoning. I also think Hayes is a bit of an intellectual fraud. For example, he MAKES STUFF UP about etymology and publishes it. He presents himself as some kind of linguistic genius (Oh, yes, he does), but he makes painfully embarrassing gaffes in pompously dictating little lessons with Latin words. He has not, to this day, answered a critique (to my mind devastating) of his RFT that was in the journal "Behavior and Philosophy". Hayes also does not tolerate dissent within his ranks of admirers, and he launched a hot verbal broadside against a woman on the ACT professional listserv who questioned whether one really needed to adopt ACT as a lifestyle rather than simply as a clinical technique. (Hayes believes ACT must be a life-choice to be most effective; I'm shocked that he thinks ACT *can* be a life-choice.) The ACT crowd chafed when the Time reporter smirked at Hayes's claim that ACT could bring about Middle East peace. But that's the way he thinks: grandiose ideas. I steer clear of those people while keeping a watchful eye for what they might impose on the rest of us in order to bring about their great visions.
> > What is it that you like about ACT?
> Thanks for asking!
> More and more I suspect that mindful acceptance (as opposed to mere resignation or defeat) is the bedrock of therapy and emotionally "healthy" living. I also think it's obscured or denied in most of psychotherapy and American culture. Hayes's emphasis on it, and his techniques for & discussion of how to go about "finding" acceptance within yourself, I think, are excellent. He deserves my gratitude for that.
> I also really like the idea that the client will decide what the therapy, and the client's life, will be "for". The client gets to say what she wants out of things; the therapist doesn't get to dictate it based on special professional knowledge. That's great. Though, again, I think the implementation of these ideas are the sticking point. The ACT "Values" treatment seems quite presumptuous and a lot like Sunday-school dictation, to me.
> I also like the idea that the goal is a better life, not simply feeling better in this precise way right now or all the time. That's an insight and perspective for every single situation that can ever come up, I think. I should hang it on a sign off a stick in front of my head so I never lose sight of it: "Remember, Your Goal Is A Better Life."
> I don't want to put anyone off ACT by my criticisms of it. A lot of people can get a lot of good out of it just as it is, I'm sure. But I think some components of it are much better than others, and I think the overall scheme that the acceptance portion is presented in is more encumbering than helpful.




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