The key to psychological flexibility and valued living is noticing the difference between five senses and mental experience and noticing the difference between moving toward who or what is important versus moving away from unwanted inner experience.
The matrix is a diagram about noticing—a diagram that can, as it turns out, cue psychological flexibility. It’s composed simply of two bisecting lines: the vertical line representing experience and the horizontal line representing behavior.
When acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is introduced to clinicians, it may come off as a set of sequential steps to be applied in session.
ACT’s core processes—acceptance, defusion, self as context, committed action, values, and contact with the present moment—may seem to stand alone. However, in practice the processes are not so neatly distinguished.
Cognitive-behavioral treatments are often described in step-by-step manuals. They provide strategies for treating a specific psychological disorder or diagnosis as opposed to addressing the specific problems and symptoms of a particular person.
Manualized treatments may fall short as they tend to adopt a general approach to treatment versus creating a specific approach tailored to each client.
Over the years, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) has grown and evolved, in part, due to the unique contributions of the clinicians who use it. The freedom within the framework is one feature that makes ACT so effective.
Many of my clients come in initially wanting some specific “thing” that will fix their problems: they want to simply do X action and get Y result.
I imagine my clients are not unique in this. We live in a world of fad solutions to our problems, where with every moment something new and shiny vows to change our lives for the better. “Just do this one thing,” it promises. Until the next thing comes along.