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Cognitive Defusion And Willingness Workbook

Cognitive Defusion And Willingness Workbook



Chartered Psychologist Rob Archer introduces techniques from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help with career change. This workbook includes exercises and metaphors from the ACT literature ...

Chartered Psychologist Rob Archer introduces techniques from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help with career change. This workbook includes exercises and metaphors from the ACT literature to try out.



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Cognitive Defusion And Willingness Workbook Cognitive Defusion And Willingness Workbook Presentation Transcript

  • CognitiveDefusion andWillingnessHow Acceptance andCommitment Therapy CanHelp With Your CareerDecisionBy Rob Archer C.PsycholThe Career Psychologist
  • What is Acceptance & CommitmentTherapy (ACT)?1. ACT is a so-called ‘3rd wave’ cognitive behavioural therapyACT is a branch of cognitive-behavioral therapy, an empirically based psychologicalintervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies together withcommitment and behavior change strategies to increase psychological flexibility.2. User-friendly way of dealing with negative emotionsACT has a reliance on practical techniques and metaphors to ensure it is easy to use andunderstand. I use it with clients who are considering a change in career. Often a stressfultime, ACT is a way not so much of ‘tackling’ negative thoughts and emotions but ratherrenegotiating someone’s relationship with them.3. Evidence-based therapyAs a psychologist, I’m always concerned to know that the exercises and techniques I usehave solid evidence behind them. ACT has fantastic evidence base across a wide range oftreatment interventions – anxiety, stress, depression. However, to my knowledge BloomPsychology is pioneering its use within the career psychology area.
  • What is Cognitive Defusion?Most cognitive behavioural approaches to negative thinking seek to eliminate negativethoughts and replace them with positive. However, some negative thoughts simply will not goaway. Indeed, the more you push them away the more they return.Instead, we prefer to practice cognitive defusion which encourages clients to detect theirthoughts, and to see them as hypotheses rather than objective facts about the world.The aim of defusion is to try to catch our minds at work telling us stories that are not objectiveor helpful. We should look at our thoughts, rather than through our thoughts.In other words, treat them like passengers on a bus, chattering away in the background.Some thoughts may be helpful, but most have no real consequence to the direction of ourlives.The exercises in the following pages have been modified for use with career decisions, butthe original versions are from the following books. We can highly recommend both!
  • Pick a thought that your mind often tells you in relation to yourcareer change.‘I am X’ (for example ‘I’m incompetent’ or ‘I’m not good enough’).Is this thought helpful? Does it motivate you?If not, take this thought and in front of it place the words:‘I’m having the thought that I’m X’For example, ‘I’m having the thought that I’m incompetent’.Say this to yourself now.Then, go further and say:‘I notice I’m having the thought that X’You can use this process with any unpleasant thought. This processis known as defusion. In a state of fusion, thoughts seem like theabsolute truth; in a state of defusion they are merely bits oflanguage.An Exercise in Defusion
  • Summarise the thought /typical patternNickname for this story Is this thoughthelpful?For example: ‘I’m such a loser’ ‘The loser story’ No. It doesn’t help me advancetowards my values orobjectives. Buying this thoughtonly makes me go into my shellor feel apologetic for trying tomake progress in my life.Can you identify the stories that your mind often tells you about yourself and yourcareer change? Think again of any of those ‘snakes’ you identified previously.Identifying Your ‘Usual Suspects’
  • Who’s driving your bus?The temptation is to argue with them – I’m not a terribledriver! – or to try wrestling them off the bus. Trouble is,this stops you from driving. Or you could try negotiatingwith them, try a different route, and go off on a detour.But how many times has this actually worked?We have news for you; your mind’s battle with itself is anunwinnable war.Imagine that you’re driving a bus. On the front of the bus is an important destination- let’s take one of your key values – let’s say ‘freedom’. As you drive, passengers climbaboard. They represent your experiences, memories, thoughts and feelings. Some of thepassengers are nice, but others are nasty and keep telling you that you’re going the wrongway, you’re a terrible driver, you’re driving too fast etc. Do you recognise them already?This is often a major shift in thinking. But think of the times when you’ve said that you’ll just wait to feelmotivated and more confident before you change your life. Have you ever actually been in this perfect position?Or are the fears you have the same ones they’ve had for years and years, and yet still you put your life on hold?Ultimately the question you must ask yourself is who’s in charge of your bus? Is it your passengers or is it you?But there is an alternative. You can choose to accept thepresence of the passengers – even though you don’t like all ofthem - and be willing to have them so long as you are makingprogress towards your values. After all, if you think about it,are your fears really more important than your values?
  • A VideoThis is a short film by Joe Oliver which brings the ‘bus’ metaphor further tolife. Except it uses a boat. Don’t be confused, the boat is a lot like the bus.
  • My vision is to.... (summarise briefly)The values underlying my goal are....What negative thoughts, emotions and sensations do I expect toexperience in pursuit of my vision?An Exercise In Willingness
  • An Exercise In WillingnessThe thoughts, emotions and sensations I’m willing to have in orderto achieve this goal are....At difficult times, it would be useful to remind myself that....
  • Imagine you’re climbing a mountain andyou’re halfway up. Suddenly, the cloudsroll in and it starts to rain. You have twochoices. You can either head back down oryou can carry on. If you carry on, it is notbecause you like the feeling of being coldand wet. It is because you value the idea ofreaching the top. In other words, you arewilling to experience some difficulties to dowhat you really value.If you are contemplating a big change, youwill experience some emotional discomfort.You can face this challenge by askingyourself what your goal is, what the valuesunderlying the goal are and what thoughts,feelings and urges you are willing to have inorder to complete this goal.A Metaphor for Willingness
  • I often talk about my own levels of willingness with clients. When I was thinking about my own careerchange I remember a pattern I repeated.•I want to do something different.•I don’t know what.•It could be X (insert job idea), but Y (insert reason).•I’ll think about it some more.•Pause for a few days. And repeat.I did this for....ooh let me see...5 long years.I could have approach it differently.•What’s my goal? To find a career I love.•What values underlie my goal? To do meaningful but well-paid work.•What actions could I take to follow these values? Firstly, define what I mean by ‘meaningful and well-paid’ and generate some real-life options.•What feelings and thoughts am I willing to have to reach this goal? Virtually anything! None of thethoughts can harm me or stop me unless I let them.The difference was immense. Suddenly I was into action and I felt some distance between my thoughtsand me. It was as if I saw my mind as a part of me but not the whole of me. This was the most liberatingfeeling because I was suddenly willing to experience negative thoughts and emotions but not necessarilyto act on them.I was steering my ship.My Willingness: a story
  • The Career Psychologist isan independent occupationalpsychology consultancy basedin London.We offer coaching, consultancy,training, measurement andassessment to individuals andbusinesses looking to make achange for the better.www.thecareerpsychologist.com www.linkedin.com/robarcher