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By Joel Minden, PhD, author of Show Your Anxiety Who's Boss

Action Not Avoidance: Three New Things to Learn

Part two of a six-part series on ACT processes

By Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D.

Emotions are the psychological sounds made by mixing the past and present. It is important to be able to hear them, name them, and learn from them, simply because they tell us a lot about where we are and where we’ve come from. Without them, we are less conscious of our history and the subtleties of the current environment. Without them, we lose some life intelligence.

Buddhism and psychoanalysis share roughly the same goal, the alleviation of mental suffering—one working from a highly personal and individual perspective, the other from a more universal point of view. As research supports the effectiveness of using both psychodynamic and mindfulness-based processes (rather than solely one or the other), it’s useful to examine some of the other ways Buddhism and psychoanalysis overlap.

It is widely accepted that language plays tricks on people, both those who suffer from psychological difficulties and people in general. Therapists are called to reconnect clients to those elements of these experiences which may hold value and use in the therapeutic process. In their chapter in The Big Book of ACT Metaphors, Matthieu Villatte, Jennifer L.

How can transdiagnostic approaches help treat anxiety disorders? By using wisdom from the new and groundbreaking contribution by Michael Tompkins, PhD: Anxiety and Avoidance: A Universal Treatment for Anxiety, Panic, and Fear

As of 2013, there are twelve anxiety-disorder diagnoses and over twenty-five subtypes and categories of these disorders, with specific treatments for about half of them. Research has demonstrated that these treatments, particularly cognitive behavioral ones (Hofmann and Smits 2008; Norton and Price 2007), help most people recover from anxiety disorders. Over the last few years, however, researchers have studied the effectiveness of general, rather than specific ones for anxiety disorders.

In psychotherapy, particularly in mindfulness and acceptance camps, psychological flexibility is the primary goal of intervention. As we’ve seen in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) interventions, the core processes such as mindfulness, self-as-context, and defusion are used as tools to achieve the overall goal of increasing one’s “ability to contact the present moment more fully as a conscious human being, and to change or persist on behavior when doing so serves valued ends” (Hayes & Strosahl, 1999).

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