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By Erin Heath, New Harbinger Publications Blog Editor

In acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), it is acknowledged that overidentification with literal language leads to psychological inflexibility, which is at the core of human suffering. To address some of the tricks that language often plays on people, therapists need to use language in an experiential way, and this is the path chosen by ACT and other third-wave therapies.

For the last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about some of the ways language can play tricks on us and cause suffering, as well as how, alternately, it can be used to our benefit in therapeutic settings. And last week, we discussed mindfulness as one technique that allows the therapist to use language in an experiential way.

Whether you are a novice or advanced practitioner in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), you know that metaphors and exercises play a crucial role in its successful delivery. These powerful tools go far in helping clients connect with their values, and give them the motivation needed to make a real, conscious commitment to change.

For the last several weeks we’ve been presenting views and definitions from a variety of researchers and psychotherapists on the consuming and powerful force commonly referred to as love. We’re just about ready to move on to other subjects (we promise we’ll return to love again, eventually), but need to add one final point.

As we have discussed in previous posts, psychologists have offered many different perspectives on love. Most of these, however, revolve around love as a feeling, sometimes conflating it with cognitions and behaviors as well. As the authors of ACT and RFT in Relationships point out, even the “father of behaviorism,” John Watson, succumbed to this romantic view of love when writing to his mistress: “Every cell I have is yours, individually and collectively. My total reactions are positive and towards you.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been examining the meaning and history of romantic love through the lens of a team of behavioral therapists who wrote the recently released book, ACT and RFT in Relationships: Helping Clients Deepen Intimacy and Maintain Healthy Commitments Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Relational Frame Theory.

Editor's Note: This is the second part of a two-part Q&A with one of the authors of ACT and RFT in Relationships, JoAnne Dahl, PhD. If you missed part one, catch up here.

In the book, you talk about self-as-content being a particularly hazardous perspective for people in romantic relationships. Can you elaborate on that?

JoAnne Dahl, PhD, is a clinical psychologist specializing in behavioral medicine and a co-author of many books, including the recently released ACT and RFT in Relationships: Helping Clients Deepen Intimacy and Maintain Healthy Commitments Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Relational Frame Theory.

If you haven’t logged on to the blog in awhile, you may have missed our past three posts about love. What is love, from an ACT therapist’s perspective? How has it been defined by researchers before ACT? Physiologically speaking, what is it? Today, we’re continuing the discussion because frankly, we’re intrigued.


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