By Erin Heath, New Harbinger Publications Blog Editor
The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) Annual Convention is a four-day conference devoted to bringing the cognitive behavioral community together to “stimulate thinking about the myriad issues that surround cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and how it intersects with other disciplines,” as the organization puts it. New Harbinger staff have returned to our Oakland office, letting the experience of the conference sink in.
Although teenagers may seem like they are totally absorbed in their video games, sports, or movies, they notice what’s going on around them. Teens are curious about the adult world, and are often eager to take steps toward it. During adolescence and puberty, anything related to sex is sure to catch their attention. Teens struggle with questions of identity and values and seek role models. Our culture and popular media provide endless opportunities to present issues surrounding sex, often in the form of celebrity gossip.
Most cognitive behavioral therapy approaches focus on aversive symptoms and problematic behaviors. This emphasis can limit the attention that’s paid to experiences that focus on growth and prosperity, such as a client’s culture and faith. Acceptance and commitment therapy, however, has a marked focus on values-based living, which aims to increase functionality by using values as a compass to do so. For many clients, one of the most important areas of values-based life is religious belief systems.
When clients get in touch with difficult emotions in session, crying is a normative behavioral reaction. At times, a client’s level of emotional distress may appear to escalate to an out-of-control level.
Notice your reaction to the client’s emotion, even the thought that it is out of control. If you want to control your client’s emotions, notice this urge and reorient to being with the client in that moment, sitting with him or her compassionately.
Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) is rooted in a scientific explanation of how our brains have become the way they are through the history of human evolution. From this foundational understanding, CFT focuses on the purposeful cultivation of compassion, the skills and strengths that flow from it, and how to use them to work effectively with human suffering.