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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July 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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Lovingkindness Meditation with Highly Shame-Prone and Self-Critical People: A Social Safety System Workout

As mentioned in our previous post about guided meditations for highly shame-prone and self-critical clients, high self-critics tend to have under activated social safety systems. Under activated social safety systems are associated with loneliness, chronic alternation between striving toward achievement and fearing failure (e.g., perfectionism), depression, pervasive anxiety, and other issues that tend to bring people into therapy. Lovingkindness meditation (LKM) can basically be thought of as a workout for the social safety system.

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July 2016 Tool of the Month: Self-Esteem versus Self-Compassion Handout

If you read our recent post about the top 20 science-based recommendations for working with highly self-critical and shame-prone clients, you already know that the pursuit of high self-esteem should be dead. The scientific community has definitively shown that attempts to raise self-esteem don’t generally work, and may even have some negative side-effects (Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger, & Vohs, 2003). In contrast, self-compassion has all of the positive benefits of having higher self-esteem, without the downsides.

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June 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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20 science-based recommendations for therapy with highly self-critical or shame-prone clients

It’s our anniversary!!! It was two years ago this month that “Team Compassion” started the ACTwithCompassion website. Over the course of those two years the number of people following our work has grown tremendously and we feel very honored and humbled that so many of you seem to have found what we are doing here helpful in some way. Thank you!

top_20_250.jpgFor the last years, Team Compassion founding member Dr. Melissa Platt has been scouring journals and the empirical literature to bring you monthly research updates. In this post, we have pulled together the 20 research findings we feel are most directly applicable to working with highly self-critical and shame prone (HSC/SP) clients. And so on our anniversary, we present to you, our top 20 science-based recommendations for working with highly self-critical and shame-prone clients!!!

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