Cultivating Our Inner Guides: Notes from ACBS WorldCon Seville

palace on river

Pre-conference has just completed at ACBS WorldCon in Seville, Spain. For the last two days, the leading thinkers in contextual behavioral science have led experiential workshops on the compassionate mind, functional analytic psychotherapy, process-based therapy, language in psychotherapy, and much more.


Despite many of us being jet lagged or slowed by the 100+ degree heat on the Seville streets, mental health professionals from all over the globe are sitting in Sevilla Melia hotel conference rooms, grouped into twos and threes, working diligently on their psychotherapeutic practices and their own emotional struggles—both of which are hard work.


Much in the spirit of acceptance and commitment therapy, these two-day pre-conference workshops are sprinkled with mindfulness practices and visualizations, like the one that Steven Hayes led this morning in which he asked us&emdash;with our eyes closed&emdash;to find a person in our lives who could serve as a guide. This is someone who sees us for who we really are, doesn’t judge us, and looks at us with kindness. What would this guide say to us if he or she spoke? Dr. Hayes asked us to visualize our guide’s face behind our own, helping us feel more settled in our own skin as we move about the world. With this sense that there is a kind guide with us at all times, recognizing us and valid and real and authentic.



In the Compassionate Mind workshop with Drs. Laura Silberstein, Dennis Tirch, and Paul Gilbert, we discussed our intentions and/or values, and how the compassionate mind can help tap back into those intentions when conflict arises. For example, one important aspect of this is our own multiplicities: our multiple minds. In a time of  conflict, they explained, our anxious mind, our angry mind, and our sad mind might have various motives, thoughts, bodily sensations, and emotional memories that we subconsciously recall. Among all of this, the compassionate mind can help make space for these minds in their triggered states. And by helping clients map out the bodily sensations and thought patterns that might come along with these minds (for example, the angry mind often says things like, I want him to do it now! Or, I want to be heard!) clients will be able to recognize them sooner, and use mindfulness to slow down, check in with themselves before their angry, anxious, or sad selves cause them to act on behaviors that get in the way of their intentions.




The ACBS community is an incredibly engaged group of professionals, with no frills. Even in a place like Seville where there are tapas and sangria and beautiful cobble stone streets to explore, these folks are practicing the clinical tools that help them “walk through hell” with their clients, and so they practice walking through a little hell themselves. This engaged community clearly doesn’t hesitate to dive deeply into new ways to help clients using contextual science processes, and this is only the beginning of WorldCon.



Stay tuned on our Facebook and Twitter pages for more updates from the conference.