October’s issue of Metro Parent highlighted an interview with Jake Boehm, Assistant Clinical Director at Gateway’s Sterling Heights clinic. Jake explains how acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can be utilized in ABA to help clients cope with the range of emotions experienced daily, especially ones that are difficult to process.
Jake explains that clinicians implementing ACT should first help clients recognize their values in order to design treatment that guides the individual to reach their aspirations. Once the client’s values are established, the therapist can create hypothetical situations that would cause discomfort. The therapist would then help the client recognize their feelings do not have to dictate how they respond.
Jake begins painting a social scenario where a client is at a party with their favorite people. He goes on to explain, “I ask them to recognize that there will also be a person they do not like at the party. Will the child stand at the front door and try to prevent that person from entering but end up missing the party altogether?”
If a child’s value is to have fun with their friends, standing at the door to stop the person they dislike from entering would conflict with their value. The goal is to teach a client that they can look at their thoughts instead of looking from their thoughts. This is called diffusion and in Jake’s words, “helps a client separate themselves from their thoughts they have created.”
One benefit of ACT is that it can incorporate techniques like mindfulness and is based on observable actions that can be seen through their behavior and thus positively change the way the client interacts in their environment. “What’s great about ACT is that we, as practitioners, can use this therapy to encourage clients to actively engage in behavior that we can see—and observe them adopting behaviors to better their lives” explains Jake.
ACT is one of many therapies implemented by BCBAs at Gateway’s clinics. If you believe ACT would benefit your child and they are already receiving therapy at Gateway, contact your child’s BCBA and see what steps your family can take to begin. You can read the rest of the article here.
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