Sofia 3 Hall - Marinela

Setting the Grounds for a Valued Change: The Initial Phase of Treatment in ACT

Target Audience: Cognitive Behavioral therapist or trainees with beginner level of experience, Cognitive Behavioral therapist or trainees with moderate level of experience, Experienced Cognitive Behavioral therapist  

 ACT practitioners are faced with several challenging tasks in the initial phase of treatment. During the first few sessions, therapists need to develop a useful, contextual formulation. Rather than focusing on symptom reduction, the emerging treatment plan should emphasize the client's valued goals. Establishing a good rapport with the client is important in all therapies, and in all types of CBT therapeutic relationships should be based on a strong sense of collaboration and transparency. On top on these, however, a fruitful treatment alliance in ACT is also contingent upon the somewhat elusive concept of "creative hopelessness": early in treatment, therapists often need to help clients recognize the futility of their most basic forms of coping strategies, and at the same time also provide viable alternatives. This last endeavor is rarely an easy one: these alternatives are often perceived as counterintuitive and even "illogical", and merely attempting to explain their nature using common language tools may prove counterproductive. Perhaps most importantly, it is essential for the ACT therapist to deliver from the get-go a strong message of an active, behavioral approach, one that is clearly and explicitly based on the psychological flexibility model. Finally, in addition to all the above undertakings, it is never too early to start working on the development of acceptance, mindfulness and defusion skills.   Learning objectives This in-congress workshop will focus on the critical initial phase of treatment in ACT. We will learn how the first sessions can be structured and implemented in a way that is compatible with this trans-diagnostic approach and relevant to a wide variety of cases (with or without a DSM diagnosis), but at the same time idiosyncratically tailored to the specific individual. The key learning objectives are: (a) how to create a useful contextual, "label-free" case formulation, (b) effectively present the idea of creative hopelessness, using both verbal and non-verbal communication means, based on the client's own treatment objectives, (c) start practicing flexibility and develop basic ACT skills (e.g., acceptance, defusion) right from the beginning of therapy, and (d) utilize current scientific knowledge and common cognitive and behavioral techniques in the service of these objectives.   Teaching Methods The workshop will be based on an interactive didactic style, using a Powerpoint presentation. Relevant research findings as well as actual case examples will be provided to support and illustrate key points.   Recommended Readings Hayes, S.C, Strosahl, K.D., & Wilson, K.G. (2012). Acceptance and commitment therapy: The process and practice of mindful change (2nd edition). New York, NY: The Guilford Press. (Chapters 4-6) Harris, R. (2009). ACT Made Simple: An Easy-To-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.Oakland, CA: New Harbinger. (Chapters 5-6) Katz, B. A., Catane, S., & Yovel, I. (2016). Pushed by Symptoms, Pulled by Values: Promotion Goals Increase Motivation in Therapeutic Tasks. Behavior Therapy, 47(2), 239-247.   Brief description of the workshop leader Dr. Yovel's research focuses on treatment components of current cognitive behavioral therapies, and he teaches graduate-level courses on ACT and mindfulness at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He completed his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Northwestern University, and his internship and post-doctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.