November 2016 Tool of the Month: Empathy Exercise to Help You Prepare for Sessions

Do you ever have times, maybe at the end of a long day of seeing clients, that you feel disconnected or apathetic? Of course you do; we all do. It’s tough to remain present to suffering hour after hour. During times like this it’s common for therapists to try to just “push through”, to ignore our feelings and power on. But we would like to suggest a different, more compassionate, and also probably more effective strategy—getting in contact with your values through a brief perspective taking exercise.

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October 2016 Shame and Self-Compassion Research Update

Every month, we scour the scientific literature for interesting studies that have practical implications for therapists working with shame, self-criticism, or compassion. Below are a few of our favorites for this month:

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1,000 Likes and a summary of our most popular content to date

We are grateful and humbled that last month we reached 1,000 likes on Facebook!  As we celebrate this milestone, we wanted to take a moment to thank all our supporters over these last few years who have helped to spread the word about ACT With Compassion. We are also incredibly grateful to those of you who have given us feedback and input which has helped to improve our work. Thank you all!

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October 2016 Tool of the Month: Early Memories of Warmth and Safeness Scale

In a recent post, we wrote about how the absence of criticism in a person’s history is not the same as the presence of warmth.  It is not necessary for clients to have a history of extreme levels of abuse or verbal criticism from others in order to develop a shame prone and self-critical tendency. A mere absence of responsive and warm communications and physical contact from their caregivers can contribute to high levels of shame and self-criticism, even in the relative absence of abuse or criticism.

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September 2016 Shame and Self-Compassion Research Update

Every month, we scour the scientific literature for interesting studies that have practical implications for therapists working with shame, self-criticism, or compassion. Below are a few of our favorites for this month:

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ACT with Compassion for Interpersonal Trauma Survivors: Building the Foundation

Several of the folks following us at ACT with Compassion have expressed an interest in learning about how ACT with Compassion can help clients who are dealing with the effects of interpersonal trauma. Some of you have noticed that survivors tend to experience high levels of shame. Others of you have shared that compassion-focused work seems to resonate with this population. Indeed, having a history of interpersonal trauma is linked to higher levels of shame, and shame is thought to play an important role in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Therefore, it may be beneficial to consider compassion-focused approaches with this population to address the shame-proneness and/or self-criticism that may be maintaining PTSD or other presenting problems.

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September 2016 Tool of the Month: Use of chair work in “CFT Made Simple”

In working with highly self-critical and shame-prone clients, we (at ACTWithCompassion) often utilize chair work as a way to increase flexible perspective taking and facilitate self-compassion. Much of what we rely on for guiding our chair work comes from Leslie Greenberg, Ph.D. and his colleagues in Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT). EFT provides an empirically-grounded and well-researched methodology for working with internal conflict and self-criticism. We have two books that we recommend for learning about chair work on our resources page

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August 2016 Shame and Self-Compassion Research Update

Every month, we scour the scientific literature for interesting studies that have practical implications for therapists working with shame, self-criticism, or compassion. Below are a few of our favorites for this month:

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The absence of criticism is not the same as the presence of warmth: shame, responsivity, and adult attachment

“I don’t understand why I’m like this. I wasn’t abused or bullied. My parents weren’t ever critical of me. What’s wrong with me that I hate myself so much?” Statements like this are fairly common when someone who is highly self-critical and shame-prone clients is asked to reflect on the origin of their problems.

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August 2016 Tool of the Month: Learning about Shame Worksheet

Sometimes it can be hard for us to tell when shame is present. It often operates in the background, driving particular action tendencies, thoughts, bodily sensations, social signaling, and memories. When someone is experiencing shame from the inside, it can be sort of like being trapped inside of a dark room without a flashlight. This is especially true in the case of overwhelming shame that may be accompanied by dissociation and disorientation. The client may believe there is something wrong with them or that they have done something terribly wrong while they are stuck in shame. In these times it can often be helpful to foster a sense of curiosity about what the experience of shame is like while it is happening.

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