Sunday, October 16, 2011

Yet Another Reason CBT & ACT are Compatible

Every now & again on this blog, I'm going to really dork-out and get technical. While most of the posts are certainly for the general public, this one is coming from my inner Ph.D.-student.

While folding laundry, I was ironically in my head thinking about the concept of coming into contact with the present moment. This is the thought that indirectly caused me to put my shirts in the sock drawer: CBT instructs people not to ruminate about the past or worry about the future, while ACT provides a substitute behavior (i.e. mindfully coming into contact with the present moment). In other words, roughly speaking, CBT works from the negative and ACT works from the positive in terms of action.

This is yet another reason why I think CT might be useful for some people before an ACT intervention. Allow me to explain. If you were writing a research proposal, for example, first you'd go through all of the problems with the past research and explain why it isn't sufficient. After this, you'd go onto explain exactly what you intend to do instead. Therefore, in order to make some changes on a research level, first you need to understand the problem, then you do something new. Similarly, I think cognitive techniques are useful in explaining what does not work, while ACT is really good at providing what does work.

Of course, this is not to say that out-of-the-office and on-the-spot cognitive disputation isn't ineffective. In fact, I really think it is - especially when one is either first grappling with identifying maladpative cognitions or is having a particularly difficult time. The point is that after one has identified a maladaptive cognition and worked out why it isn't effective, it is helpful to then learn what to do next (i.e. to shift into the present moment). In this way, I think ACT techniques are perfect for where CBT leaves off.

Ok, back to laundry!
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