The heart of the ACT therapeutic stance Robyn D. Walser, Ph.D. & Lic. Manuela OConnell Objectives 1) Discuss how to be more context sensitive and track consequences
of therapist behaviours. 2) Create a context in which participants will be able to use an open, engaged and committed stance. What is the ACT therapeutic stance about?
YOU Defined in Two Ways Stance Both are Relevant
It is a place occupied by experience and body 1. 2. An adopted position with respect to experiencing mental or emotional events
As a position of the feet. The adopted stance 1. 2. Requires awareness
Is Intimately linked to the ACT Core Competencies for the Therapeutic Relationship The ACT therapist The position of the feet 1. 2.
Is explored through being bold - taking action, stepping forward even when difficult Is about speaking from the heart - connecting to self and other at the level of feeling with an authentic, simple, and sincere presence The ACT therapeutic stance is and can be cultivated
It entails bringing: 1. Awareness and compassion to your own experience 2.
Stepping forward in your life; and 3. Holding that others can do the same 4.
It is embodied and it is about presence You are communicating that you are firmly here. Like the presence of a tree. Solid and firmly rooted in the ground, it does not lose its treeness despite the changing seasons and weather. It is here - present. You are whole and nothing can be said or felt that strips that wholeness. You remain rooted.
The stance is interwoven, tied together feet and heart - in whole cloth by the threads of what it means to engage in a relationship designed to compassionately support another being in creating a meaningful life.
1. SELF AWARENESS The therapeutic stance involves being able to recognize your personal capacity to be open, aware, and engaged in the therapy It means understanding your behavior, knowing when you are fused, avoidant, or out of touch with your values But self-awareness also means being connected to and aware
of how others perceive you and the impact of your behavior on others, in the moment, and across time. Exercise: Self-Awareness expanded 2. DISCOVERING YOUR EMBODIED STANCE In pairs.
One is the therapist One is the client The therapist does what they know to do with the client and practices self awareness. The client notices the embodied therapeutic stance.
Self reflective questions What was your experience? Is there anything that keeps you away from a rooted presence? Based on what you learn, is there anything you want to change? Is it something you want to work on? Engaged!
Exercise (cont) REFLECTIVE QUESTION 1. How do you think you would change as a therapist if you listened with full awareness, spoke from the heart and made bold move(s)?
Debriefing Take the larger perspective Listen with awareness Speak from your heart Be bold The therapist maintains a
stance that instigates and reinforces psychological flexibility...and has heart
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