ACT Made Simple by Russ Harris

I have to give some attention to this book because I really, really like it. This book is practical to use for both clients and therapists, has very compelling exercises and handouts, and really gets at the heart of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT (a relative of DBT). This book is amazingly accessible.

ACT is known for addressing values and long term goals. This is about your life- in context! The big picture includes searching for meaning and direction. Often we get so caught up in problematic and self-defeating thoughts that it takes us down a road we aren’t willing ourselves to follow. We miss what we hold dear when we get caught up in trying to get rid of discomfort. Getting in touch with what matters can guide our interactions or distress in a direction that we are willing ourselves to go- even though current experience is painful.

The other thing that I really love about this book is the plethora of creative suggestions for relating to thoughts. If people could see their thoughts and feelings, sort of speak, their number of options for what to do with them could increase. The agenda here has to do with changing our relationship to our thoughts and feelings, rather than try to suppress, change, or get rid of them.

Here is a sample of what is in the book, taken from “Attempted solutions and their long term effects” on page 87. “What have you done to avoid or get rid of problematic thoughts, feelings, memories, sensations, or emotions? Did your thoughts and feelings go away? Did they return on the long run? Has this brought you to a rich, full, and meaningful life? What has this cost you in terms of time, energy, or money; negative effects on health, well-being, work, leisure, or relationships?”

If it’s cost you quite a bit, it might be time to try something else.