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.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Books from 2018

Each year, we update our Learning ACT Resource Guide with the newest resources on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy that come out each year. The guide contains a comprehensive list of all of all the ACT that have ever been published. You can browse this list, organized by category, on our LearningACT website. Below, are the 43 new books we discovered when revising the guide at the end of 2018:

Learning ACT

Books for Therapists

Books for Clients

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.

New books on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 2017


We do our best to update our Learning ACT Resource Guide with the newest resources on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy that come out each year.

You can download the newest version of the guide here.

As part of the guide, we’ve pulled together a comprehensive list of all the ACT that have ever been published.  Below are the 11 new books we discovered when wee revised the guide at the end of 2017:

Books for therapists:

ACT Books for the public:

We hope you find this new version of the Learning ACT Resource Guide useful in your practice. If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it!

Disclosure: These links are affiliate links, meaning Portland Psychotherapy will be receive a small commission if you decide to buy something through Amazon after clicking on them. If you appreciate our work in putting this guide together (which we’ve done for free), then maybe you’ll be happy to have that happen, but if not, just buy the book without clicking on the link. It doesn’t cost you anything either way.

CEO of Portland Psychotherapy publishes second edition of “Learning ACT”

Our CEO, Jason Luoma, Ph.D., has just published the second edition of the book Learning ACT!

Learning ACT, Second Edition has been thoroughly rewritten with new exercises, references, and totally new chapters. It also pulls together resources on ACT from across the literature to guide therapists who are new to ACT.

In this fully revised and updated edition you’ll find exercises to help you practice, in the therapist role, ACT’s unique six process model. Numerous therapy vignettes illustrate how ACT actually looks in clinical practice and give you a chance to step into the role of therapist, to practice your skills before stepping into the room with an actual client. There are also downloadable extras that include role-played examples of the core ACT processes in action.

The two most novel parts of the book (outlined here in more detail) and based on recent changes in contextual behavioral science are:

  • A thoroughly rewritten chapter on flexible perspective taking/self-as-context that makes this often confusing process much more accessible and useful
  • A new chapter on how to tailor ACT to take into account different cultural contexts and identities

Read more on the New Harbinger website

Learning ACT second edition

Praise for Learning ACT:

“In this authoritative text, Luoma, Hayes, and Walser present a clearly written and practical step-by-step guide for therapists who are using acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Firmly rooted in contextual behavioral science and derived from a well-articulated theory, this text clearly describes and illustrates the concrete strategies to target a set of key processes that are critical to improve the lives of people. Every clinician should be familiar with it. It is a masterful book. I highly recommend it.”
—Stefan G. Hofmann, PhD, professor of psychology at Boston University, past president of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and author of Emotion in Therapy

“This second edition is an exceptional guide for the skillful and flexible implementation of ACT principles. The chapters outline the six core flexible ACT processes and their methods, with case examples and dialogues that bring the information to life. The book includes a unique and invaluable set of training tools and tests of core competencies. This is a masterful ‘how to’ for ACT suitable for clinicians at any level of training and experience.”
—Michelle G. Craske, PhD, distinguished professor, and director of the Anxiety and Depression Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles

“Firmly grounded in contextual behavioral science (CBS), superbly organized with lucid and comprehensive explanation of all ACT concepts and competencies, and loaded with clinical pearls and pitfalls to avoid, this book lives up to the title and then some, as one of the best books for learning ACT. Further, the clinical vignettes and self-reflective exercises will deepen and advance the practice of more seasoned practitioners of ACT. The updated text and the new inclusion of an excellent chapter on culture and diversity make this edition more relevant and invaluable than ever in this diverse, globalizing world. This book is simply a ‘must-have’ for any serious ACT practitioner!”
—Kenneth P. Fung, MD, FRCPC, MSc, associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Toronto; clinical director of the Asian Initiative in Mental Health at the University Health Network; and president-elect of the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture

“ACT has been at the forefront of the pioneering third-wave cognitive behavioral therapies for many years. Not only has it uniquely linked the human evolution of language and symbol formation to mental processes that can cause suffering (relational frame theory [RFT]), but it has articulated six clear processes for therapeutic intervention centered around developing psychological flexibility. For both novice and expert therapists of any orientation, you could not want for a more clearly articulated, easily accessible, and therapeutically wise approach than this by these leaders and pioneers in the field. Full of therapeutic transcripts with clear, insightful descriptions of the therapeutic process, this beautifully written book is an outstanding contribution to therapeutic literature that is bound to become a classic and an essential text.”
—Paul Gilbert, professor at the University of Derby, creator of compassion-focused therapy (CFT), founder of the Compassionate Mind Foundation, and author of The Compassionate Mind

“The tremendous dedication of thought and care Luoma, Hayes, and Walser infused into this second edition of Learning ACT is evident in the breadth and depth of every chapter. Their labor of love resulted in a preeminent and indispensable guide for novice and advanced ACT practitioners alike. Especially valuable are the fifty core competency exercises that stimulate experiential engagement. The chapter on adapting ACT to cultural contexts makes this a cutting-edge treatment for individuals from every walk of life who want to move in valued directions while welcoming all their thoughts and feelings.”
—Mavis Tsai, PhD, coauthor of A Guide to Functional Analytic Psychotherapy, and research scientist and clinical faculty at the University of Washington

 

UPCOMING TRAINING EVENTS

January 31, 2020, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm · Portland, OR · Details

This workshop is intended to be part 1 of a two day workshop, but can also be taken on its own. This workshop is useful for therapists who want an update on the current clinically applicable research on how shame functions, including an overview of how and when shame tends to be adaptive versus maladaptive. This day has two primary goals: 1. To provide an overview of research on shame and self-criticism that can guide clinical practice and 2. To allow therapists to experience the model from the inside-out so as to develop greater personal self-compassion and a deeper intuitive understanding of compassion-based intervention strategies. Read more

February 1, 2020, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm · Portland, OR · Details

This workshop is intended to be part 2 of a two day workshop, but can also be taken on its own. If you already have a thorough understanding of the functions of shame and a good understanding of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, then it is you will probably be OK taking just the second day of this workshop. The workshop proceeds to discuss how ACT processes can be focused on addressing chronic and pervasive shame-based difficulties, with a particular focus on flexible perspective taking. Demonstrations of how to use perspective taking and compassion-fostering strategies with clients will be provided and attendees will also practice in small groups. An overview of chair work in the context of ACT will be provided. Read more

February 29, 2020, 9:00 am – 12:15 pm · Portland, OR · Details

Exposure is one of most the effective treatments for anxiety, trauma, and obsessive compulsive and related disorders (e.g., OCD, PTSD, panic disorder). A transdiagnostic intervention, exposure involves the repeated and systematic engagement with avoided stimuli that cause anxiety. Unfortunately, exposure remains underutilized by clinicians (e.g., Scherr, Herbert, & Forman, 2015), mostly due to misunderstandings of how exposure works and perceived difficulty of using it with clients. This half-day workshop will address these gaps by drawing from research on enhancing clinician understanding of and ways to overcome barriers to delivering exposure therapy (Farrell et al., 2016). Using didactics, role-play, and experiential exercises, participants will learn flexible application of exposure for a variety of clinical targets. Read more

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