A look at the future of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

After many hours of work, the second edition of Learning ACT is out! I’m so thankful to all those who helped in its revision, putting in many hours of work and making fantastic suggestions for how to improve it. Thanks so much to those who resulted in this much improved book.

Here’s a list of the key changes in the second edition:

  • Most of the core competency exercises were updated based on reader feedback
  • Experiential exercises added or updated
  • The case conceptualization process and form was updated
  • The flexible perspective taking/self-as-context chapter was completely rewritten
  • A new chapter on considering culture in using ACT
  • A new appendix on using ACT in different settings
  • New audio recordings of exercises
  • New videos
  • Updated recommendations on resources for further learning based on all the new resources in the ACT universe
  • Inclusion of new theory based on evolution science and social extensions of the model
  • Updates to the core competencies of ACT

In addition to the book, I wrote a blog post about what I believe are some of the key changes happening in the world of ACT and how these are reflected in the book. The ACBS world is constantly learning more about the therapy based on practice and research, and we tried our best to incorporate the most important changes. If you buy the book, I hope you find it useful.

Jason Luoma, Ph.D.

Author: Jason Luoma, Ph.D.

Jason is a psychologist who researches ways to help people with chronic shame and stigma and also works clinically with people struggling with those same problems.

 

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.

Book Review: Self-Help That Works

Book Review: Self-Help That Works

Even as a professional psychologist, I feel overwhelmed browsing  the self-help shelves of the average book store. There’s a glut of titles, many written by people with no relevant credentials. I sometimes wonder how people wade through them all!

In the past few years I have developed an interest in the effectiveness of self-help books. Even when self-help books are based on well-researched principles, it’s rare for researchers to study the effectiveness of specific books as a standalone treatment. Given this situation, I was pleased to come across the new edition of  Self-Help That Works (2013; 4th ed.). This book rates a staggering number of self-help books and client resources, including websites and movies about mental illness. The authors solicited the involvement of nearly 5,000 professionals across several research studies. These professionals rated resources on which they felt familiar, and these ratings were aggregated into averages.

The rating system features 5 stars and a “dagger” (†) symbol urging people to stay away from a particular resource.  Most—but not all—of the entries have some text describing it and why it received its rating. Chapters are divided across 41 different issues. Sometimes the chapter layout seemed a bit confusing in that particular books were not always listed where I expected to find them; overall, though,  the layout is pretty sensible, and the titles and authors are all listed in the index, so that you can look up any particular books or authors with ease.

Given the massive scope of this sort of project, there’s no sense quibbling over ratings with which I agreed or disagreed. I do wish the range of possible scores were more limited, though. Given the incredible number of choices, I think the authors could have championed the ones they liked, noted what they thought were okay, and warned people against the sketchy ones. However, a tremendous amount of work has gone into this, and there are probably good reasons for the system they used.

I think this book is worth having in any professional library. It’s a thorough book, with more than 2,000 entries according to the authors. With this book, you’ll always have a handy and thoughtful resource you can consult when a client or colleague asks for recommendations about a particular mental health topic. This alone makes it worth having it around

Great New Book on OCD for Clients

Great New Book on OCD for Clients

Recently I read OCD: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. As the book is aimed at a lay audience, I’ve already written a post for our client-centered companion blog, The Art and Science of Living Well. However, because OCD is rare enough that many professionals don’t know a lot about it, I thought I’d give the book a mention here.

The book came out this year and was written by Michael Tompkins, PhD, who works at a private practice in the Bay area and is an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Its chock full of up-to-date information and provides a wonderfully concise summary of the ins and outs of having OCD.

I’ll confess here that I often find it tedious to read through books written for a lay audience. With OCD, however, I whizzed through it across two evenings. The book condenses a wealth of information into an economical readable format that’s about the length of a novella.

Want a brief overview of medications and augments for OCD that are supported by research? It’s there. Want some advice on how or whether someone with OCD might seek accommodations at work or school? It’s there, too.

Dr. Tompkins’ writing is direct and precise, yet his concern and compassion for those with OCD shines through.

I realize I’m harping a bit on economy of the writing. Perhaps I’m a bit finicky, or perhaps I’m too practiced in sifting through journal articles for what I want to know to read anything word-for-word anymore, but wordiness drives me up the wall. Most of the time, I find myself skimming through self-help books just wanting to get it over with.

I will clarify here that OCD is not a self-help book; rather, it’s provides an overview of options for someone with OCD, and it lists a number of self-help books in its References section.

OCD: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. I recommend picking it up for your professional library if there’s even a possibility you might work with someone with OCD. It’s a up-to-date and handy resource.

UPCOMING TRAINING EVENTS

How to be Experiential in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Jason Luoma, Ph.D.
April 23, 2021 from 12-1pm

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is, at its core, an experiential treatment, but is frequently delivered in a non-experiential way. Experiential learning involves going beyond verbal discussion, insight, and explanations of experience. But how do we do this in ACT and how do we know when we are spending too much time engaged in non-experiential modes of learning? This workshop will outline a simple model you can use to identify when you are in less or more experiential modes during therapy and easy methods to switch to more experiential modes. You will then have a chance to practice it in breakout groups and get feedback. Read More.


Ethical & Legal Considerations in Psychedelic Integration Therapy

Jason Luoma, Ph.D. and Brian Pilecki, Ph.D.
May 7, 2021 from 12-2pm

This workshop is based on extensive research and writing we have conducted into the legal and ethical issues of working with psychedelics in the current regulatory climate, as well as clinical practice doing harm reduction and integration therapy with psychedelics. It is informed by consultation with multiple experts on harm reduction, as well as attorneys knowledgeable about criminal and civil matters relating to drug use and professional practice. We will share with you all we know so that you can be more informed in the decisions you are making in your practice and be better able to decide whether to jump into this kind of work if you are considering it. Read More.


Case Conceptualization in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Jason Luoma, Ph.D. and Brian Pilecki, Ph.D.
May 21, 2021 from 12-2pm

This workshop provides a chance to learn concrete methods for conceptualizing cases from the perspective of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Formulating a useful case conceptualization is a foundational clinical skill that is essential in delivering effective treatment, and one that can be often overlooked in the process of working with clients. Participants will learn several formats for doing formal case conceptualization outside of session as a means to further develop knowledge and skill with ACT theory, as well as to learn a means to enhance treatment planning. The importance of ongoing case conceptualization throughout a course of treatment will be emphasized, as well as common pitfalls in conceptualizing client problems. Participants will also have a chance to practice newly learned skills with a case in breakout groups. Read More.


ACT Precision Training: In-Session Case Conceptualization in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Help You be Focused and Strategic in Your Interventions

Jason Luoma, Ph.D. and Jenna LeJeune, Ph.D
June 18, 2021 from 12-2pm

This workshop provides a chance to learn and practice in-session, in-the-moment case conceptualization of cases from the perspective of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This workshop focuses on helping you use ACT theory & in-session clinical markers to make more precise and strategic interventions. The main goal of this workshop is to help you become more adept at identifying in-session client behaviors that are indicators for particular ACT processes that are likely to be most relevant. The workshop uses a process we call ACT Circuit Training, which involves intensive analysis of a video of an ACT session and intentional practice in conceptualizing client behavior and generating possible ACT responses, followed by discussion and feedback. Read More.


ACT Agility Training: In-Session Case Conceptualization in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Increase Flexible Responding

Jason Luoma, Ph.D. and Jenna LeJeune, Ph.D
July 16, 2021 from 12-2pm

This workshop provides a chance to learn and practice in-session, in-the-moment case conceptualization of cases from the perspective of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This workshop is intended to help therapists be more flexible and nimble in their use of ACT processes, strengthening their ability to fluidly shift as needed between processes within sessions. Therapist learning ACT often develop tunnel vision, focusing too much on particular processes or responding rigidly when more flexibility is needed. 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.

April 9th, 2021 – Ketamine 101: An Introduction to Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy with Gregory Wells, Ph.D.
May 14th, 2021  Research on MDMA and Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy: An Overview of the Evidence for Clinicians with Jason Luoma, Ph.D.
June 11th, 2021 Becoming a Psychedelic-Informed Therapist: Toward Developing Your Own Practice with Nathan Gates, M.A., LCPC