Helping Kids, Families, Adults & LGBTQ with Care for Over 25 Years

Michelle Topal MSW, LCSW

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Great New Resource

Happy New Year.

The new year is often a time of reflection and planning. If you are like most of us, you are evaluating the past year, looking forward to what this new year has to offer, and trying to figure out how you're going to accomplish your goals. If one of your goals is to have a fuller, more meaningful life, than I have an invaluable resource for creating this. I recently discovered a great resource and one that I have been using to help clients explore the skills to live a more vibrant life.

I have recently started studying an approach called ACT or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This approach focuses on accepting that feelings are an unavoidable part of the human condition and that trying to avoid them causes greater suffering. It also incorporates mindfulness and essentially trying to live in the moment and be present. Lastly, it helps people identify their values and the vision they have for who they want to be and helps them make a commitment to living this life, no matter what feelings might seem to be obstacles.

ACT teaches people how to change their experience with their thoughts, especially the negative, self-defeating ones, so that you are not trapped by them. Essentially, by learning to accept your feelings (rather than working hard to avoid them), and understanding your thoughts for what they are (perceptions, not facts or reality), you are able to actively participate in the life you want to have. This may not mean you will not experience pain, sadness and anger, but it means you will also experience all the joy that comes with living the life you envision. In other words, your life will be rich and full and one that you value.

One of the best resources I've found so far with helping people understand and apply these concepts in a very user friendly way ('cuz this stuff is hard work that is not easy to do), is "Get Out of Your Mind, and Into Your Life" workbook by Steven Hayes (who is also the founding researcher/clinician of ACT). His book uses humor and examples to illustrate the concepts in a way that makes it understandable and entertaining. His work is also empirically supported by much of the clinical research he and several others have conducted.

So with the New Year, take the leap into your life and make a commitment to living the fullest life you can. I am always available to help you in this journey. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like to schedule sessions for us to work together on this workbook.