Posts tagged ‘Counseling’

How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ll By Brenda Bomgardner

What’s It All About? – How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

By Brenda Bomgardner

 

If you’re like many people, you may have an inner voice telling you things like you’re worthless or that no one wants you. Every day, an exhausting battle may rage inside of you.

Sometimes you try to push back against all those negative thoughts, but they come crashing through anyways.

In fact, trying to counter your negative self-talk only seems to make things worse. Spiraling down quickly, it often feels like there’s no relief in sight.

Now, imagine that there’s a way to counter the effects of negative thinking without pushing back or repressing your thoughts.

That’s what acceptance and commitment therapy is all about.

What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Unlike other coping skills—where you try to avoid negative thoughts or drown them out—acceptance and commitment therapy involves shifting your thinking to more productive outcomes.

This is accomplished by:

• Becoming more aware of your actions
• Recognizing what you consider to be your own values
• Making a commitment to act

The idea behind acceptance and commitment therapy is to face those negative thoughts in a more productive way.

It can be very difficult to drown out or counter negative thoughts, especially if they have been deeply ingrained into your thinking. However, acceptance and commitment therapy empowers you to choose what to do about thoughts.

Decide on Acceptance and Take Action

When you practice acceptance and commitment therapy, you utilize a process to make decisions independent of your negative thoughts.

For example, let’s say that you struggle with feelings of low self-worth based on negative experiences in childhood. When you think “I am worthless” you suddenly now have a choice. You can decide whether to take action right now to address this negative thought and might enter into a battle with the thoughts. You might try to counter the negative thought with a positive thought. You can spend a lot of time and energy in the battle and feel like you’re spinning your wheels and the thought keeps coming back. Here’s the deal. You can battle with your thought or you can act on creating behaviors that infuse your life with meaningfulness and fulfillment. You can act independent of your thoughts and/or feelings. You can accept a thought or feeling as a process your mind does based on your learning history and work towards making behavior changes.

Make a Commitment

Another important part of this process is making a commitment not to push back against those emotions, thoughts, or feelings.

Often, what causes people emotional distress is their attempt to push back or fight thoughts or feelings they find distressful. However, this frequently only causes them even more unnecessary pain and suffering.

When you commit to stop pushing back, and begin to be willing to accept your feelings you can begin to approach these issues from a new perspective and make changes based on what you truly value.

Why Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Helpful?

Perhaps the biggest reason why acceptance and commitment therapy is helpful is that you are no longer trying to avoid painful thoughts or feelings.

If you have thoughts about your low self-worth, you may be tempted to “numb” those thoughts through drug or alcohol use. On the other hand, you may try to bottle those thoughts and feelings up inside. Any attempt to release them causes you loads of emotional pain.

Let’s face it, this may temporarily work for you. But avoidance doesn’t really solve the larger problem. You still carry uncomfortable and unwanted emotions around you, and eventually, it will come out one way or another. Acknowledging to yourself that you have and experience painful feelings and thoughts transform them.

How to Practice Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

To practice this technique, it’s helpful to work with a therapist who understands acceptance and commitment therapy.

While it may be hard to discuss painful memories and difficult emotions with anyone, a therapist will be able to support you through the process. They can also help you find alternatives for viewing these thoughts and emotions so that they need not be compounded by the fight against pain causing distress for you.

If negative thinking is an issue and fighting those thoughts is causing you problems, consider acceptance and commitment therapy. You’ll likely find that by finding acceptance and committing to changing your thinking based on your own personal values, you will find relief and peace of mind.


To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page

About the Author: Brenda Bomgardner is in her encore career. One of her greatest joys in her career is seeing people move beyond life’s roadblocks toward a fulfilling and meaningful life. She believes each person has a purpose in life waiting to be realized that evolves over a lifetime. And the path to reaching your life’s purpose is as unique as each individual. We all have dreams. Step by step she will walk with you on uncovering how to bring your dreams to fruition.  Brenda is a counselor, coach and clinical supervisor and specializes in practicing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which is a cutting edge evidenced-based processes. This means there is scientific research proven to show ACT works. Before becoming a therapist, she completed a successful 17 year career in Human Resources at a Fortune 500 company. On a personal note she loves the great outdoors, ATV riding, adventure travel and family.

To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page, https://brendabomgardner.com/brenda-bomgardner/

How to Get the Most Out of Counseling – Gideon Killion

It may surprise you to hear this, but the most important factor in making counseling successful is you — the client. That’s not to say picking a good counselor isn’t important, but what you bring to the session matters more. So, what can you do to make your counseling experience as helpful as possible?

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1. Be honest with your counselor and yourself.

As much as we might hope, not talking about something won’t keep it from being true, or from having an impact on us. It is usually better to be honest about something we don’t like about ourselves — even if we choose to accept it rather than change it — than to pretend it doesn’t exist. Here’s an example. I spent months working with a client named Mike, but after every session I scratched my head, wondering why he wasn’t making any progress. That is, until he revealed a secret that made change impossible. Only when we understood the role this secret was playing did change become possible.

2. Be responsible for your progress.

Counselors and therapists can’t “fix” us or give us “the answer.”  They can help us gain insight, process, heal, and grow, but we have to do the work. And it is work — often hard work — to make lasting change.

3. Be willing to change.

This may seem obvious, but some clients come to counseling to figure out how to get someone else to change, such as a spouse, a boyfriend, or a child. And sometimes we do need to ask people in our lives to change their behaviors, or to seek change in our life circumstances. But, ultimately, any significant change we wish to make in life begins with change in ourselves, since that is all we can control.

4. Do it for yourself.

Many people come to counseling because someone else has insisted. Sometimes it’s a spouse. Sometimes it’s a judge. But it’s usually a waste of time until we find our own reason to be there. One of my first clients, Alan, only showed up for couple counseling because his fiancée dragged him. He made sure to participate, but only enough to keep her off of his back. Not surprisingly, we made little progress. I don’t blame him for being uncomfortable or not wanting to be there, but if he was going to come — if he was going to spend his money and time — he could have used the opportunity to make his relationship more satisfying and meaningful.

5. Anticipate the change you desire.

Make it real with your imagination. Doing so will make it seem more possible, more tangible, and thus easier to achieve. Sometimes we fail because instead of dwelling on what we want to achieve, we imagine reasons why we can’t do it. Now, I am not suggesting that we should not anticipate the challenges we will face along the way and create plans to overcome them. But, all too often, we talk ourselves out of success.

I hope these ideas are helpful to you in your counseling journey.

Remember that you are the most important factor in creating the change you desire.

*All names have been changed to protect confidentiality.

 

About the Author: Gideon Killion is an intern counselor in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. He also has a private counseling practice at www.lifecraftcounseling.net.

Therapy for the Uninitiated and Intimidated: 9 Things to Expect in Counseling – Gideon Killion

If you’ve never tried counseling or psychotherapy before, you may be a little worried about what it will be like. You may even be a lot worried. Will it be awful? Like a job interview, but with more crying?

You do not have to cry. Not if you don’t want to. But if you do, it’s okay. Counseling is certainly a good place for crying; your counselor won’t think less of you (and has a box of tissues ready). But… crying is not a requirement.

So, what can you expect?

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There are many different sorts of counselors, and many different sorts of therapy, but you can be fairly certain of a few things:

 1. There will be a counselor.

2. There will be a chair. Or a couch. Something for you to sit on, anyway.

3. There will be some talking.

Feel better? Not yet? Ok, here are some more things to know about counseling:

 4.You do not have to do anything you do not want to do.

Everything that happens in counseling is voluntary. The counselor may ask you questions, or suggest that you do things, but it’s up to you. You can say “Yes,” and you can say “No.” Of course, how much you get out of counseling will depend on how much you participate.

5. You can ask questions.

If you’re wondering why the counselor is asking certain questions, or suggesting certain activities, or if you want to understand your counselor’s methods in general, ask! By law, you have the right to ask for and receive information about the theory, process, and methods your counselor uses, as well as his or her qualifications.

6. The counselor will ask you questions.

The counselor will ask you about the issue that brings you to counseling. He or she will probably ask you talk about its history and impact on your life, as well as the steps you have already taken to resolve it. The counselor may ask about many different parts of your life, such as work, income, education, ethnicity, medical history, substance use, family history, relationships, and so on. It may seem nosy, but the counselor is asking because your issue is probably connected to other parts of your life. To serve you well, the counselor needs to discover these connections.

 7. The counselor will probably want to talk about feelings.

The counselor will probably want to discuss many things that go on inside you, such as thoughts, beliefs, physical sensations — and yes — emotions. Some counselors will focus on them more, some less, but you’ll end up talking about emotions at some point during counseling. Whether you think emotions are what make life beautiful, or are the only things stopping you from becoming Spock, your counselor will see them as information about what is important and meaningful to you.

8. The counselor may suggest exercises or activities.

Counseling is not just talking. Many kinds of therapy involve specific exercises that are intended to create insight or foster change. For example, a counselor using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may ask you to keep a “thought journal,” while a counselor trained in Gestalt techniques may ask you to speak to an imaginary person sitting in an empty chair.

9. The counselor will listen to you and care about what you are going through.

It may seem strange that a person you have only just met would actually care about you, but it’s probably true. Most counselors do what they do because they find satisfaction in supporting and caring about other people. You should expect genuine empathy, understanding, and support from your counselor.

 

Gideon Killion is an intern counselor in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. He also has a private counseling practice at www.lifecraftcounseling.net.

Therapy for the Uninitiated & Intimidated: How to Choose a Counselor – Gideon Killion

Whether you’ve decided to find a counselor (or some other kind of psychotherapist), or are still thinking about it, you are probably wondering how to go about finding and choosing one. There are a lot of counselors and psychotherapists offering many different kinds of therapies. How do you find one that is right for you? It seems daunting. Last week I had to find a plumber to unclog a drain and that was hard enough, even though I am fairly certain that most drain unclogging boils down to snake tools, wrenches, and P-traps.

 

Here are some steps to make the process easier.

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Step 1: Define your goal.

It may be tempting to gloss over this step, but don’t. Give it some attention. You may already be aware of the problem: “I feel depressed,” “I am terrified of poodles,” etc. Spend some time translating the problem into a goal. For example, “I feel depressed” could become “I want to feel joy, purpose, and connection with other people.” This step is important in three ways. First, it will make it easier to choose a counselor, later in the process. A practitioner who has expertise or interest in your goal will probably be a better fit than one who doesn’t. Second, you’ll be ready when the therapist asks, “How can I help you?” Third — and most important — identifying your goal is therapeutic on its own. It sets the stage for successful change.

 

Step 2: Do some research.

There are many different kinds of psychotherapy. You may have heard of some of them: CBT, DBT, Gestalt, Psychoanalysis, just to name a few. The good news is that, in general, your motivation and your relationship with the psychotherapist are more important that the particular type of therapy. But you may find that a particular type of therapy fits you better and makes it easier for you to stay motivated and connected to your therapist. So, if you can, do a little research online or in your local library on some of the different kinds of therapies that are available, and see which ones appeal to you. For example, this Wikipedia entry lists some common types of psychotherapy. Certain therapies are known to be effective for specific problems, so you may also want to do some research about your problem or goal, too.

 

Step 3: List your requirements.

Realistically, your financial resources and availability will limit your options for counseling or other psychotherapy. Identifying these up front can guide your choices. Some psychotherapists take insurance while others do not. (If you pay for therapy or counseling out-of-pocket, you may still be able to file forms with your insurance company in order to be reimbursed, later. Just be sure to check with them in advance to make sure that the practitioner and treatment are covered by your policy.) There are practitioners and programs that offer reduced or sliding scale rates for those with limited financial resources. (The People House Affordable Counseling Program is one of these.) Ask yourself how you will pay for counseling and how much you can afford to pay, as well as when you can make yourself available. Also consider whether you need individual counseling, couple counseling, or family therapy. And don’t overlook group counseling: it can be powerful and is often more affordable.

 

Step 4: Gather a list of possible practitioners.

Once you’ve established your goal, done a little research, and listed your requirements, it’s time to begin looking for a handful of counselors or psychotherapists from whom to choose. If you are comfortable doing so, ask friends or family members if they have any recommendations. Your doctor / minister / rabbi / guru / herbalist / yoga teacher may also be able to suggest someone. Use an internet search engine, such as Google, and try different search terms, such as “couple counseling sliding scale Denver”, “cognitive behavioral therapy Colorado”, or “poodle phobia counselor Denver”. Many therapists pay to be listed in online professional directories that you can search directly, too. One of the most popular is at PsychologyToday.com. Finally, psychotherapists in your area will often leave cards, flyers, or newsletters on bulletin boards in local coffee shops and other business establishments. Keep your eyes open when you’re out and about.

 

Step 5: Contact them.

Once you have a handful of names, call or email them. Explain what you are looking for and ask whether it is something they can help with. Ask for information about their fees, available appointments, credentials, and the methodology they use. Ask if they would be willing to do a free initial consultation, either over the phone or in person. Some do, and it is a good opportunity to tell them about your goal and to ask how they would help you achieve it.

Step 6: Decide.

Once you’ve contacted the people on your list, it’s time to decide. Rule out the ones that won’t work for practical reasons, and decide between the rest. And remember, it’s not permanent: you can change therapists if it doesn’t work out. Good luck!

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Gideon Killion is an intern counselor in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. He also has a private counseling practice at www.lifecraftcounseling.net

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth