ACT With Adolescents with Dr Louise Hayes (an Australian Clinical Psychologist)

ACT With Adolescents with Dr Louise Hayes (an Australian Clinical Psychologist)

– ABA (Applied Behaviour Analyst) used to be used a lot to determine parent-child interactions, and parent training
– she has tested ACT for depression in teenagers with funding from Beyond Blue
– she attended a Steve Hayes workshop & got into ACT
– ACT psychologists do not have to have no suffering – that suffering is ok
– she notes that parents often experience guilt when they do not do the best that they can
– ACT also helps parent(s) accept their mistakes & accept their strengths & connect with their kids more authentically
– before ACT, working with adolescents was very much like working with adults – using CBT – skills training (recognise automatic thoughts), problem-solving & coping skills
– family system approaches – family therapy is very important [working with a family in the room] – work with parents & adolescents
– in Australia, adolescence is defined as 12 to 24 years of age
– this shift has been driven by developmental research showing that the brain continues to develop
– she asks people (parents) to remember one difficult period from their own adolescence (for e.g. not performing at their best or not being invited to a party – not a major difficulty)
– she does a guided imagery exercise &/or asks people to draw the experience
– people often report feeling the intensity of emotion (as a teenager)
– physiological changes in the adolescent makes emotions more intensely (using the amygdala rather than the prefrontal cortex) NOTE WELL
– adolescents have little power to change circumstances (adolescents often feel stuck – no power – such as money, job, time etc., & a number of adults telling them what to do)
– adolescents are sometimes surprised to learn others have feelings which are intense (this helps “normalise” & validate their feelings)
– messages from others – you shouldn’t think like that

– ACT helps people recognise that suffering is part of being human
– inside/outside metaphor – teenagers often feel “transparent”
– what they look like on the outside
– what they feel like on the inside
[this is called perspective-taking]

ACTing at school

HEXAFLEX – psychological flexibility
– 6 point diagram – core processes
– acceptance, defusion, self-as-context (how we see ourselves), acceptance of the present moment, values & committed action

– draw a picture of yourself – where you are at now
– have you got a passing comment from a teacher who said something strong & powerful

– defusion exercise/experiment
– milk, milk exercise
– say it over & over for a minute

– sky & the weather – 2000 years old – feeling/emotions change like the weather

– mindfulness for teens
– pull from adults /society to think about the future
– she uses music they like / activities they like
– notice differences in the body
– be present

Self as Context
– adolescence is a process of discovery

Values & committed action
– often there is a clash between parents & adolescent about their values
– problems – lot of fusion
– adolescents often have little practice in making choices about what they care about.
– values cards (free on ACBS website)
“i would like to know you not just your problems”
– place cards on the table – where would you like to start
– “who is the wisest person you know”
– do you prefer blending in or standing out?

[she recommends having conversations, rather than direct questions]

– thEre is Pressure from society about making choices
– fun theory – piano steps

– she calls homework – practice activity
– she uses phones & YouTube clips rather than handouts | take a photo with the home (it is a private space)
– privacy & homework
– values reminder in your phones

– not talking for a while is a process of independence (push boundaries to discover what they are) to discover they are not boundaries ey want to follow – middle ground.

– suffering & making mistakes, but with parental guidance

Source: ACT in Context | Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Podcast date: 08 July 2012


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