ACT and Personal Coaching

Many of the individuals and couples we see in our practice are dealing with life problems that transcend medically-based diagnostic categories. These issues are not symptoms of larger problems like clinical depression, but the natural expression of our complicated human lives. Most of the time, our problems are just the result of our efforts to get through life as best we can - efforts which have had both positive and negative outcomes.

Despite the differences between psychotherapy and personal coaching, we have found that our training and experience as clinicians can be a tremendous benefit to our personal coaching clients. Not the least benefit is the fact that effective psychotherapists know that a great deal of our suffering comes from the fact that we are simply participating in the human condition (remember the first noble truth?).

I recently ran across a quote on Kelly Wilson's website that nicely articulates the humanism and far-reaching egalitarianism that underlies Acceptance and Commitment Therapy:

ACT does not allow a neat division between people doing treatment and people needing treatment. It is hard to get what is important about ACT without confronting the fact that in a very deep sense, we are all in the same boat. This means that the principles are scalable. ACT addresses obstacles to effective living that transcend diagnostic categories and even the notions of "sick" and "well." ACT attempts to address very fundamental issues that affect us all.

I've always been impressed by the totally non-pathologizing basis of the ACT approach. Its basic assessment categories are about skills and abilities, rather than diagnostic labels. We have found that ACT techniques are a powerful addition to our personal coaching services as well as a basis for psychotherapy. Here are some of the principles that we believe are central to positive change in both psychotherapy and personal coaching, starting of course with:

Acceptance and Commitment. Our coaching strategies rely on this fundamental principle, which we have learned through many years of helping people in psychotherapy: Meaningful change always requires both a thorough acceptance of ourselves as we are, and a commitment to act in accordance with our deep personal values. This is the basis of the ACT approach to psychotherapy.

Positive psychology figures prominently in both our psychotherapy and our personal coaching program. We have learned that happiness is not really the result of things that happen to us, but can be cultivated in the way we engage our lives. We draw on the growing body of psychological research on this topic to help people live more satisfying lives and realize their potentials.

Mindfulness is what enables us to be in the present, the place in which all change occurs. In taking action which actualizes our most far-reaching goals, the only thing we can ever do is take one step from right here. It can be startling to realize how much of our time we spend in daydreams and preoccupations, completely out of contact with our real life. Mindfulness helps us orient to who we really are, and what we are really experiencing. With this perspective, the path to our personal and professional goals is much clearer.

We've written a bit more about Integrative Health Partners' Personal Coaching Program on our website. Feel free to visit and browse.

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