Authors: Jonathan W. Kanter, PhD Ajeng Puspitassari, MA Maria Santos, MA Gabriela Nagy, BA
Social work is grounded in the values of service, social justice, integrity, and competence, and is committed to promoting the dignity and worth of individuals and human relationships (National Association of Social Workers, 1999; Reamer, 2006).
You’re a mental health professional who has had some interaction with acceptance and commitment therapy, whether you’re an experienced ACT practitioner or you’ve only just heard of ACT, and you want to learn how to get started. Maybe you’ve read ACT books and are craving hands-on training. So, how do you know which ACT training is right for you?
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.