Most of the work I do is based on Action and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which is one of the recent mindfulness-based therapies shown to be effective with a diverse range of clinical conditions.
The goal of this therapy is to help you create a rich and meaningful life guided by your deepest values and in which you are fully present and engaged.
Modern Western Psychology has led us to believe that it is our birthright to be psychologically healthy, happy, and carefree – and that feeling good is the measure of a life well lived. It is seemingly only the abnormal person who suffers.
The fact is that almost all people are in pain somewhere in their lives much of the time. Almost all of us will struggle and suffer at some stage in our lives, and find that easy methods of feeling good bear little relationship to living a meaningful, valued, vital life.
ACT is firmly based in the tradition of empirical science, yet has a major emphasis on values, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion, living in the present moment and accessing a transcendent sense of self. It utilises an eclectic mix of metaphor, paradox and mindfulness skills, along with a wide range of experiential exercises and values-guided behavioural experiments. It is a very active therapy. It’s not one those therapies where we just talk about your problems. It’s a therapy in which you actively learn new skills to improve your quality of life.
A good way to describe ACT therapy comes from one of its key themes: Learn how to accept those things that are out of your control and commit to changing those things that can be changed to make your life better.
My goal is to help you create a rich and meaningful life in the face of all your unpleasant and unwanted ‘private experiences’ (thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, urges, and memories).
One of the methods that can be used to explore these difficult thoughts and feelings is mindfulness; a meditation-based practice of observing thoughts and feelings without getting entangled by them. When we observe our private experiences with openness and receptiveness, even the most painful thoughts, feelings, sensations and memories can seem less threatening or unbearable. In this way mindfulness can help us to transform our relationship with our thoughts and feelings, helping us break free of self-defeating habits and beliefs or destructive patterns of behaviour.
To help you create a rich, full and meaningful life, we’ll need to spend some time talking about what you really want out of life. Of course, as we attempt to create such a life, we will encounter all sorts of barriers, in the form of unpleasant and unwanted ‘private experiences’, but with mindfulness practice and other interventions used in ACT, we can help you develop a sense of meaning, purpose and vitality in life.