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Acceptance and Commitment in TIME

Posted by pseudoname on February 21, 2006, at 10:49:43

Two weeks ago TIME Magazine had a really long article on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and its creator, Steven C Hayes. I've been following "ACT" for a couple years, and I've been wondering when it would finally break into the news.

ACT's fundamental difference from most therapies is that it emphasizes NOT struggling against emotional pain, traumatic memories, anxiety, depressive feelings, irrational thoughts, and even hallucinations. Welcome it all, the theory is, and work on improving other, more external, aspects your life. It uses mindfulness techniques to help you accept the bad stuff, and it emphasizes finding your own, unique personal values to guide your life choices (i.e., not the therapist's values).

In my opinion, the author got ACT pretty accurately, including his repeated description of Hayes as "arrogant".

The article includes quotes from people like Hayes's friend Marsha Linehan, whose DBT overlaps in ways with ACT. And there's some condescending reactions from CBT guru Aaron Beck — who somehow doesn't get labeled "arrogant" by the TIME writer.

I have a lot of reservations about Hayes's theorizing and attitudes and those of the ACT community, which is growing, but I think self-acceptance (which is essentially what this is about) is overlooked and under-used in conventional therapy.

The article is free online at the moment: "What's the best form of psychotherapy? How can you overcome sadness? Controversial psychologist Steven Hayes has an answer: embrace the pain"

•"Happiness Isn't Normal" by John Cloud. TIME Magazine, Feb 13, 2006; 167(7), pgs 58-67:,10987,1156613,00.html




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