ACT for Social Anxiety – A Great Self-Help Book and Treasure Trove of Resources

ACT for Social Anxiety – A Great Self-Help Book and Treasure Trove of Resources

I’ll make a confession here: I’m a failure at bibliotherapy. By bibliotherapy, I mean assigning a self-help book to a client and following it along with the client in order to guide treatment. For clients who are interested in self-help resources, I’ll make recommendations for books that clients can read on their own as a complement to treatment, but I feel stifled at the idea of using the book to guide treatment.

The authors of Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Social Anxiety & Shyness have made things much easier for therapists like me. The book is based on a group treatment for social anxiety that has been studied in two published research studies—an initial pilot followed by a randomized controlled trial.

On their website (www.actonsocialanxiety.com), the authors offer a downloadable treatment manual based on their book. The manual is an adaption of the group treatment manual they (Jan Fleming, MD and Nancy Kocovski, PhD) used in their research studies. It includes copies of the handouts, so you don’t have to press your book against the photocopier—which I find a bit of pain to do in the digital age.

If you visit the publisher page on the New Harbinger website and register, you can also download audio files of the exercises (e.g., mindfulness exercises) and a separate collection of the handouts.

I’ve not had a chance to use the book in therapy yet, but I’ve read through it and am very impressed with it. The book is engagingly written, includes interesting exercises, and is relatively concise (I prefer brevity in a self-help book).

For all these reasons, I highly recommend Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Social Anxiety & Shyness. You can find additional resources at the authors’ website and on the publisher’s website (under the “Accessories” tab—but you must register). Check it out—it’s one of the better self-help books I’ve read and the resources the authors provide are extremely generous.

Top 5 Mindfulness Resources

Top 5 Mindfulness Resources

The science of mindfulness is a very hot topic these days.  In agreement with the research, we find mindfulness to be a very helpful skill to have that is effective for a variety of problems that come with everyday life, such as distractibility, emotional reactivity, and impulsive decision making.

If you’d like to learn this skill, we have one one simple piece of advice – practice!  Any skill that you want to get better at (gardening, sports, playing an instrument) requires practice, and plenty of it.

In order to help you to learn how to train your mind in this way, we’ve put together a list of our top 5 resources for learning mindfulness. Some of these applications and websites are also helpful for providing a sense of community around mindfulness, which helps with both accountability and feelings of connection. For example, the insight timer shows you how many other people across the world are using the insight timer at the same time.

2 Minute Beginner’s Guide Animation

Free

Why We Like It: Having a very quick, to-the-point, and accurate explanation can often be more helpful than a big, comprehensive tool.  We also like this explanation because it clarifies some of the common misperceptions of what mindfulness practice is.

Headspace

iPhone

Android

10 day free trial, subscription following trial

Why We Like It: This is a great app because the creators paid lots of attention to the interface.  This is the current industry leader, and it shows in the quality.  When you first begin to use it, the app has you watch a series of short and fun animations to quickly orient you to what mindfulness is and what it is not (the videos are worth watching).

Another reason why this app made our list is because the developers made it in a way that will have a higher likelihood of keeping you engaged over time.  Instead of moving on to something else once the initial motivation has passed, there is a greater chance you’ll stick with Headspace because each day has a different guided file, it gives you clear goals, and you get to choose to practice on specific issues (a series on anxiety, depression, pain, etc).

Insight Timer

iPhone

Android

iPad

Free for iPhone and Android with option of purchasing upgrades, $2.99 for iPad

Why We Like It: This app is worth acquiring for the Tibetan bells alone, but in the past year or so, the app has expanded to include a wide variety of meditation practices of varying lengths.

Stop, Breathe & Think

Web

iPhone

Android

Free

Why We Like It: This is a great app that works either on the computer or a smartphone.  It provides a great introduction and resources for taking your practice deeper, as well.  One thing it also does that the others don’t do is offer a check-in that will ask you questions about how you are feeling in order to suggest some useful types of mindfulness practice.

Tara Brach’s Guided Meditations

Free

Why We Like It: Tara Brach is most widely known for her book Radical Acceptance.  On her website she regularly posts guided meditations to follow along with.  Every meditation instructor has their own style, and Tara has an easy style that many people tend to like.  Additionally, we’d highly recommend listening to her her 2-part introduction to meditation talk:

Part 1 – Do You Make Regular Visits to Yourself (57 min)

Part 2 – Do You Make Regular Visits to Yourself? (55 min)

If you’d like to see our full list, please visit

Resources for Learning Mindfulness Meditation in Portland, Oregon

Beauty is the Beast: When love, caring, and kindness are experienced as threatening

Beauty is the Beast: When love, caring, and kindness are experienced as threatening

There is a new study out in the Journal Mindfulness entitled Mindfulness and Metta-based Trauma Therapy (MMTT): Initial Development and Proof-of-Concept of an Internet Resource. This pilot study tested the feasibility of an internet-based adjunctive intervention for addressing PTSD and related symptoms. Previous research has shown that a 12-week lovingkindness, or Metta, intervention was effective for reducing PTSD symptoms, with large effect sizes. This current study, in part, addressed whether similar effects could be found using an online intervention.

 

The MMTT intervention was comprised of several different tasks that participants could choose from including a thought-record-like journaling task, a mindfulness task in which participants indicated whether or not their mind had wandered every time a bell rang, a lovingkindness task, and psychoeducation. When the authors compared whether participants with different levels of PTSD symptoms differentially preferred each task, only one between-group effect emerged: people with higher levels of PTSD symptoms rated the lovingkindness meditation less favorably than people with lower levels of PTSD symptoms.

 

Without extrapolating too much based on these correlational findings, it is worth considering whether some groups of people may be more likely than others to have a threat response to love, caring, or kindness. In addition to the MMTT study, other research has also shown a link between PTSD symptoms and a threat response to positive events such as getting thanked, or receiving a gift. A self-report scale called the Hedonic Deficit and Interference Scale has been developed to assess this tendency. An example item from this scale is [after experiencing a positive event] do you experience shame and humiliation?

 

When the learning history of survivors of interpersonal trauma is considered, it is understandable how a threat response to care would develop. In the case of survivors of childhood trauma perpetrated by caregivers, for example, the same person who provides care is also the source of threat. But what about other groups that may experience a threat response to care? Perhaps people who are highly self-critical may be more likely to attack themselves following what they perceive to be “undeserved” care? Indeed, research on fear of compassion has demonstrated that being afraid of compassion is linked to higher self-criticism. In addition, maybe people who tend toward emotional over control and perfectionism would also be more likely to experience care as aversive.

 

The question of which populations experience a threat response to warmth and care is a relatively new one with potentially important implications for therapy.

UPCOMING TRAINING EVENTS


Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Guide Exposure Therapy: The Basics

Brian Thompson, PhD, Brian Pilecki, PhD, and Joanne Chan, PsyD
September 17th, 2021 from 12-3pm

This is a beginner workshop intended to provide the foundations of exposure therapy including types of exposure interventions and design effective exposure exercises for various anxiety disorders and OCRDs. Participants will learn how to use ACT processes to guide the implementation of exposure techniques and how ACT processes may be enhanced by traditional exposure methods. This workshop will provide some background in theory and will emphasize applying exposure to clinical contexts using case studies, exposure demonstrations, and the practice of new skills by participants. Read More.


Overcoming Barriers to Effective ACT-Informed Exposure Therapy

Brian Thompson, PhD and Brian Pilecki, PhD
October 15th, 2021 from 12-3pm

This workshop will offer a brief introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy-informed exposure and focus on practical ways to address common problems in implementation. Case examples will be provided to illustrate common client barriers such as lack of buy-in and difficulty grasping core ACT concepts. Strategies for overcoming these barriers will be offered and participants will have the opportunity to practice newly acquired skills through role-plays and break-out rooms.Read More.


Therapy and Research in Psychedelic Science (TRIPS) Seminar Series

Second Friday of each month from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM (PT)

TRIPS is an online seminar series that hosts speakers discussing science-informed presentations and discussions about psychedelics to educate healthcare professionals. This series was created to guide healthcare providers and students preparing to be professionals towards the most relevant, pragmatic, and essential information about psychedelic-assisted therapy, changing legal statuses, and harm reduction approaches in order to better serve clients and communities. This seminar series is a fundraiser for our clinical trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for social anxiety disorder that Portland Psychotherapy investigators are preparing for and starting in the Fall of 2021. All proceeds after presenter remuneration will go to fund this clinical trial. Read more.

September 10th, 2021 – Cultural Considerations in Outreach to and Assessment of Minoritized/Marginalized Individuals in Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy with Terence Ching, Ph.D.

October 8th, 2021Presentation Title TBA – Dr. Elizabeth Nielson

November 12th, 2021Presentation Title TBA – Anthony Bossis, Ph.D.

December 10th, 2021Presentation Title TBA – Jamilah R. George

January 14th, 2022Presentation Title TBA – Jordan Sloshower, MD, MSc