Podcast Fights Mental Health Stigma Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

In a time when the public discourse around mental health struggles is permeated with sweeping generalizations of “those” mentally ill people and calls to “lock them up,” a new podcast attempts to bring common humanity back into how we discuss the psychological suffering we all face as humans. Beyond Well with Sheila Hamilton incorporates an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) perspective on the struggles we face, ideas about psychological flexibility and mental health, and what we can all do to lead a well-lived life.

Beyond Well – The Podcast

Started by Emmy Award winning journalist, author, and longtime mental health advocate Sheila Hamilton, Beyond Well is a podcast for the general public that aims to destigmatize and depathologize psychological difficulties while offering hope and resources to the listener. Each week the podcast features a guest, usually an author, musician, actor, activist or other person in the public eye, who talks openly and honestly about the struggles they have faced, whether that be anxiety, depression, substance use, racism, shame, trauma, or grief. In addition to Sheila, the podcast is co-hosted each week by psychologists and ACT therapists Brian Goff, Ph.D. and Jenna LeJeune, Ph.D., who incorporate ACT principles like acceptance, mindfulness, values, and defusion into the conversation. Along with each episode, listeners can also find written “After the Show Thoughts” that offer a deeper dive into some of the various themes and ACT principles discussed in the episode as well as resources.

Recent Guests

Beyond well covers a wide range of topics and features guests from all walks of life. Some recent guests include:  

  • Academy Award nominated documentary film maker Skye Fitzgerald talking about compassion fatigue and the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean Sea
  • Pop star Lauv talking about his struggle with depression
  • Award winning author Mitchell S. Jackson talking about racial identity
  • Activist Anna Debenham talking about her life-changing work with individuals who are incarcerated
  • Singer-songwriter, actor, and playwright Storm Large talking about being more than her labels and embracing all parts of herself
  • Bestselling author Cheryl Strayed talking about grief

Why Beyond Well Is the Fastest Growing Mental Health Podcast on Spotify   

Every guest has an inspiring and unique story to tell. But what unites all the episodes together is an idea fundamental to ACT — that psychological suffering is not some “abnormality” that happens to others, but rather an inescapable part of the human condition. The emphasis is on our shared humanity and on developing the psychological flexibility that allows us to live a life of meaning, purpose, and integrity even in the midst of that suffering. This perspective seems to be striking a cord with listeners. In just 7 months, the show has gained a tremendous following and is currently the fastest growing mental health podcast on Spotify.

How to Learn More

You can find Beyond Well on Spotify, SoundCloud, and iTunes, or go to the Beyond Well with Sheila Hamilton website for all the past episodes and other information.

Portland Psychotherapy 2018 Year in Review

Hello friends and colleagues. As we usher in a new year, we pause to take a look back at 2018, an exciting year of growth and new beginnings for us here at Portland Psychotherapy.

Expansion of clinical staff means more specialized services and an increased ability to serve our community

We just celebrated the one-year anniversary of the three newest members of our full-time clinical team: our Director of Clinical Operations, Kyong Yi, LCSW, and licensed psychologists Angela Izmirian, Ph.D. and Bryce Doehne, PsyD. Although they have only been with us for a year, Kyong, Angela, and Bryce have already made huge contributions to our organization. In addition to seeing clients, they have been meeting with members of our broader community to explore ways Portland Psychotherapy can better support underserved and disenfranchised populations, including immigrant communities and gender minorities. We are excited for how these partnerships will allow us to have a broader positive impact on our community in the years to come.

We are also fortunate to have Debesh Mallik, M.S. join us as an advanced practicum student this year. Debesh earned his master’s degree in psychology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he studied under Emily Sandoz, Ph.D., one of the foremost experts in ACT and RFT and who also happens to be coming to do a two-day training for us in Portland in April (see below). Debesh is pursuing a Ph.D. at Pacific University with a focus on substance use, mood, and anxiety disorders under the mentorship of Dr. Sarah Bowen. We are excited to have such a skilled and well-trained clinician as Debesh offer low fee therapy services at Portland Psychotherapy.

Books and other creative endeavors coming out of Portland Psychotherapy

With our wonderful and expanded team of clinicians onboard, Portland Psychotherapy founders, Jenna LeJeune and Jason Luoma were able to take a step back from the day-to-day operations of the clinic to spend the first half of 2018 abroad on sabbatical. This sabbatical allowed them more focused time to work on various research and writing projects including a forthcoming book entitled Values in Practice: A Clinician’s Guide to Helping Clients Develop Psychological Flexibility and Live a More Meaningful Life (Jenna and Jason, due out later this year by New Harbinger Press) and an RO DBT skills workbook (Jason with Tom Lynch, Ph.D. and Nicole Little, Ph.D.). Jason also worked on his soon-to-be released podcast, Research Matters in which he interviews established psychology researchers from around the world. Through the podcast, listeners, especially students and aspiring researchers, will be able to learn from the wisdom of these amazing researchers as they deconstruct the strategies that have worked for them for conducting meaningful social science research.

Research at Portland Psychotherapy

Portland Psychotherapy is the only research institution of its kind. Rather than relying on grants that make us dependent on the whims and priorities of external government funding sources, we use a social enterprise model in which profits from the income-generating activities of our organization are used to fund independent social science research. We also collaborate with other researchers around the world to help fulfill our mission of contributing to the wider community through scientific research. Over the past year, the publications that have come out of those research endeavors include: (see tinyurl.com/ppcscience for a complete list, with some available to download):

Guinther, P. (2017). Contextual influence over deriving others’ true beliefs using a relational triangulation perspective-taking protocol. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 108(3), 433-456.

Luoma, J. B., Codd, T. R., & Lynch, T. R. (2018). Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO DBT): Shared Features and Differences with ACT, DBT, and CFT. The Behavior Therapist.

Luoma, J.B., Guinther, P., Lawless DesJardins, N. M., & Vilardaga, R. (2018). Is Shame a Proximal Trigger for Drinking? A Daily Process Study with a Community Sample. Journal of Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 26(3), 290-301.

Luoma, J.B. & LeJeune, J.T. (in press). Incorporating Affective Science into ACT to Treat Highly Self-Critical and Shame Prone Clients. In M. E. Levin, M. P. Twohig & J. Krafft (Eds.), Innovations in ACT. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

Osborne, T., & Luoma, J.B. (2018). Overcoming a Primary Barrier to Practice-Based Research: Access to Independent Ethics Review. Psychotherapy, 55 (3), 255–262.

Appreciating where we have been and looking towards the future

During their sabbatical, Jason and Jenna were also able to pause to reflect on next steps for Portland Psychotherapy. It’s been more than 10 years since they launched this dream of developing a social enterprise in which the profits from providing exceptional, specialized therapy services could be used to increase the social good by funding important social science research and sliding scale services. There have been bumps along the road and at a lot of learning along the way, but we are proud of what our team has been able to accomplish thus far. If you’re interested in learning more about Portland Psychotherapy’s model of using social enterprise to make a positive difference you can read more at: tinyurl.com/ppcsocial.

Looking to the future, Portland Psychotherapy will focus on 1. Having a broader positive impact through partnerships with other like-minded colleagues and organizations, 2. Expanding our research program by hiring more clinician researchers and strengthening our research collaborations with colleagues around the world, and 3. Continuing to expand our clinical services by bringing on new therapists who are experts in their area of specialty and are interested in our mission. To help meet these goals, Portland Psychotherapy hopes to hire at least one new full-time therapist, a full-time postdoctoral fellow, and a full-time research psychologist (see: http://portlandpsychotherapytraining.com/employment-opportunities-at-portland-psychotherapy/).

Groups and classes

We continue to offer a variety of groups and classes for members of the public. Our current offerings are (see portlandpsychotherapyclinic.com/classes_and_groups/ for a complete list):

  • ACT for Depression Group
  • ACT on Life for Women
  • Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Classes

Upcoming training events

To support our training mission, we will continue to host workshops based on a variety of topics within Contextual Behavioral Science and related fields. Upcoming trainings include (see portlandpsychotherapytraining.com for a complete list):

  • Evoke, Reinforce, Repeat: Enhancing the Creativity and Sensitivity of your ACT work with a Plain Language Behavioral Perspective to Clinical Work – April 12-13, 2018 with Emily Sandoz, Ph.D.
  • Helping Patients Forgive: REACH Forgiveness as Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology – September 28, 2019 with Everett Worthington, Ph.D.

In looking back on this year, and the more than 10 years Portland Psychotherapy has been serving our Portland community, we are humbled by all the support we have received from friends and colleagues around the work. Your support, in all of its forms, is essential in the work that we do and our ability to fulfill our mission. Thank you and we look forward to what lies ahead.

UPCOMING TRAINING EVENTS

April 17 and 18, 2020, 9:15 am – 5:00 pm · Portland, OR · Details

Do you ever “get stuck” as a therapist? Do some of your clients press your “hot buttons”? Do you ever find yourself struggling and thinking about “what do I do next” or feeling anxious, scared or stressed in therapy? In this workshop we will work on clarifying your therapist values and defining what is “difficult” about “difficult” clients. Through discussions, demonstrations and roleplays we will then work on these difficult clients and look at the processes from a compassionate ACT perspective. Read more