Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Narrative Approach – an interview with Craig Smith
I would like to share with you my last discovery – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Approach, the one we were talking about recently with Dr. Hayden Finch – you can find her explanation of the method here: www.kasiamay.com/blog/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/. I asked Craig Smith, a therapist and a clinician whose work with people is based on ACT and Narrative Therapy for explaining to us what those approaches are about and who can find them helpful. Look at his responses below and let me know in comments or by sending an email if you have any questions to Craig!
WHAT IS ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY
ACT, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, is actually a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and I would best describe it as a process in which people challenge and change the perception of the stories of their past. Meaning, most people are told that a traumatic event could impact them for the rest of their lives, relationships will be impacted from it, pursuing a career might be a challenge due to it, etc. ACT attempts to increase the “psychological flexibility” and help to begin to attach a new meaning to the event of your past. This process allows you to take more action in your life, own that you (perception) are in fact the problem in your reality but even greater, YOU are the solution.
FOR WHO ACT COULD BE BENEFICIAL
We will all have painful moments, go through tragedies, hurt, and loss. ACT helps you give the meaning you want to the experiences and to allow your pain to be a source of fuel for a greater cause, not shove you into the corner to suffer the rest of your life. This type of therapy would benefit those wanting to create more ACTion in their life. A person may have some things (events) from their past and they don’t necessarily want to dive 10 layers deep into it, but they do want to begin looking at it in a different way and move forward from it.
HOW AN ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY SESSION LOOKS LIKE
Sessions will look different from clinician to clinician but for me, I allow a safe place for the individual to tell their story and begin finding meaning in it. This typically involves me asking open-ended questions that invite the client to share details about themselves, their stories, and perceptions of the stories as they see them in their current reality. It really takes shape of a nice conversation where we both begin to find what themes are most present and relevant to that person.
NARRATIVE THERAPY AS AN COMPLEMENTARY APPROACH
This is also where Narrative Therapy comes into play, which is to allow someone to lay out their story and pursue the main elements of the story as I see themes surface. I will often stop the client to summarize and clarify that what I am hearing is what they are in fact communicating. This is a good moment to validate the person and let them know they are being heard, as well as time to correct my misinterpretation of their report.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN RECOVERY IN MY VIEW
Therapy is an amazing process and opportunity to gain awareness and continuing to grow as a person. We have 168 hours in a week and therapy may only be 1-3 hours out of that so what you do outside of the office is key to your continued growth. Be intentional about what you do, who you allow in your life, the people you follow on social media, and the music you listen to. Everything affects everything so you must be deliberate in the things you allow into your space.
Craig’s website and podcasts (check them necessarily!):
Follow Craig on Instagram: @greatestdaymindset
Contact him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org