If you’re lucky, your new client will offer up some values-guided treatment goals. However, many clients will initially give you “emotional goals,” “dead person’s goals,” or “insight goals.” Let’s take a look at each of these.

By Tom Szabo, PhD, BCBA-D

Without the ACT toolkit, I probably would not have accepted this case. But since I was skilled at using ACT, I decided to give it a try. I modified the ACT model into a three-word mantra. This is just a single, clinical case, but it's a nice illustration of how ACT elements worked with one kid with high functioning autism.

The bottom line is that if ABA is going to be relevant in the 21st century, we need to address many more real-world issues than those faced by parents of kids with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.

What about behavior in conditions of poverty, recruitment into gangs and terrorist cells, or intimate partner, gender-based violence? Strategies and tactics that worked in the basic labs, clinics, and school settings may need to be retooled for new environments. This is where some ACT strategies can be quite powerful.

We strive to organize our difficult emotional life and remembered experiences in such a fashion that they are no longer a part of who we are. We work to escape or avoid whole sets of internal experiences, whole pieces of ourselves need to be gone. Life becomes about not remembering and not feeling. Life becomes about the trauma.

Trauma and PTSD expert, Robyn Walser, PhD, reflects on life after trauma.

Sometimes when my colleagues and I work with very depressed people who are very self-critical, it quickly becomes obvious that they’re harbouring considerable anger. They may behave in very submissive, withdrawn and self-blaming ways, but they clearly have serious conflicts with parents or partners.


Praxis: Tell us a bit about your journey to learning and eventually teaching Compassion-Focused Therapy.

DT: I’ve been involved with Buddhist meditation since my childhood, when an uncle and mentor had taught me about Zen practice, and compassion is truly the core teaching of all Buddhism. Throughout my young adulthood and education, I had been looking for ways to integrate Buddhism with personal development and psychological science. In fact, I originally pursued a PhD just to better understand the dharma from a scientific perspective.

By Gareth Holman, PhD

I know you are a good person. And like me, you might be losing clients, failing to get their buy-in, or making them feel unseen in critical moments.  

We all have blind spots. And we can succeed despite them. In fact, our most productive growth often comes from learning from these limitations—by beginning to see them clearly and work through them.

We can lose sight of how to be a good friend in our most important and intimate relationship. Robyn Walser and Darrah Westrup suggest you try treating your partner the same way you treat your good friends. 

People who have experienced trauma often keep themselves in the victim role, which often keeps them away from the things they really want in life. But what if there was a way to point this out to them without invalidating them?

Many of my clients believe that they need to be harshly self-critical if they’re going to better themselves: that if they bully or beat themselves up, they might whip themselves into shape and become more motivated to take charge of their lives. This is a common belief.


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