Teach Yourself ACT!A Primer for Coaches and other Non-Therapists by Molly Froelich, MA
The basicsI have been in private practice as a life coach since 2005. First officially heard of ACT at the Harvard Institute of Coaching Conference in September 2010. For the next 13 months, I set off on a path to learn ACT with the goal of integrating its use into my practice.
But, even before 9/10.I had heard of ACT, and had only the impression that it works with troubling thoughts and learning acceptance.
Those two ideas felt very salient to the client work I had been doing for a long time.
And even before that.For years in my coaching practice, without knowing it, I had been already using some important ACT principles, namely: values clarification, the use of metaphors, setting action-oriented goals and something calledThe Gremlin!
Gremlin = troubling thoughts
Taming your gremlin does not involve staying outof the world of mind, it simply involves making certain that you enter the world of mind by choice. Rick Carson
My starting point in September 2010With rapt attention, I attended Dr. Susan Davids talk on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy at Harvards Coaching in Leadership and Healthcare conference.
Reading kicked off my learning
Everyone I knew got an earful from me about the book and ACT! I found that all this talking about ACT was an important piece of my learning.
The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris was recommended by Dr. David, so that was what I started with. And what a great choice!
The ACBS, a resourceLater that Fall I joined the ACBS and was grateful for all of its wonderful resources on ACT.
But, I did notice on the calendar of events very few workshops and trainings for more advanced practice of ACT. And, nothing specifically for coaches.
Read, read, readMy best bet to keep learning initially was to just simply continue my reading. Russ Harris ACT Made Simple gave me lots of information and ideas for my practice. Most useful was the wealth of metaphors and tools to use with clients.
What about practical applications? Reading books and the many articles from the ACBS site was great but I needed practical experience.
The question was.HOW?
I created a practicum for myself! I recruited from my network of past clients, 3 volunteers who agreed to work with me for 4 weeks of ACT-based coaching, pro-bono.
I just requested that they keep all appointments, to do the assigned homework, and to give me feedback.
Coaching agreement I had each practicum client sign an agreement acknowledging that I was a new ACT practitioner and that the process would be mutually beneficial but somewhat experimental as well. Also, I made it clear that this was coaching and not therapy, on account of the capital T in ACT.
Success! This worked out great!Allowed me to practice skills with actual coaching clients. Clients were very enthusiastic about trying ACT!I got to pilot the use of resources and worksheets from the ACBS site such as Kelly Wilsons Valued Living Questionnaire.
FeedbackGetting feedback on my coaching was key. I used Survey Monkey to create a detailed evaluation form. Client feedback turned out to be the most useful piece of learning for me.
Finally, a coaching/ACT book!Reading this book helped me to feel less alone as a coach practicing ACT and reinforced my view that ACT is a great fit for coaching.
Studying, practicum, ACBS site whats next? My personal learning style is very active and hands on I needed to extend my learning with something active. I knew that teaching something often helps me to gain confidence on new ideas. So.I created a little class on ACT principles.
ACT Class is in Session!
Im lucky to have many in my network who are interested in personal growth. I invited folks to be a part of a free 5-week class on ACT principles for our mutual learning.
The class had to be fun! The class was very visual and interactive using tools such as Chinese finger traps and various cartoons and quotes. Weekly homework was key.
The students loved the class!
You can do this too! I encourage anyone who is a new student of ACT to set up his or her own learning plan. Know your learning style and teach yourself in your own way! Find people to practice with. They are out there. Dont be afraid to make mistakes as long as there is full disclosure about being a learner.
*My talk is geared towards coaches and other non-therapists who want to use ACT.I will be talking about how I set up my own multi-part learning plan to start bringing ACT principles into my coaching work. Since theres no formal certification process to become proficient in ACT, a self-training model makes the most sense.
****A very important book in my coach training was Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson.
The Gremlin is the voice in your head that doesnt want you to succeed. The books gist was to not fight with the Gremlin but to..simply notice! Very much an ACT idea!
**It was exciting stuff and I knew after that talk I wanted to learn more about ACT but how? The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris was recommended by Dr. David, so that was what I started with. And what a great choice!May 2011, Richard Blonnas book came out first ACT coaching book In spring of last year, Richard Blonnas Maximize Your Coaching Effectiveness with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy came out.