In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, the major focus is on learning how to accept thoughts and feelings as they come (without trying to ward them off) while still committing to your values and the life you find meaningful. Values are different than goals. They have no “end point” and serve more like a compass does, always pointing us in the direction we are trying to go.
As a therapist and business owner, I have to follow my values if I want to feel in alignment with what I do. I use these values to guide me, my sessions and my business decisions! Here they are. :)
My client's often tell me that they appreciate the compassion I extend to all parts of themselves (especially the parts they deem as "bad" or "unlovable"). To me, compassion isn't about being nice or sweet, it's about recognizing that all of us suffer in some way and being present with the suffering, without judging or turning from it, is the hallmark of compassion.
I absolutely love laughing with clients when the setting is right! I swear, I've earned some extra abdonimal muscles from the amount of laughing I've done with clients. Together, we can laugh with joy at the remarkable progress they've made, or we can laugh at a moment of recognizing an anxious thought for what it is. Whatever the reason, I make sure to bring humor into the session when it's appropriate and the client feels safe with me.
This one is such a joy for me to experience! Client's often have this idea that therapists have their shit together, but the reality is that we're human like everyone else. I love bringing my imperfections in the room to bring down the "perfection myth", but even more, I love helping client's embrace their own imperfections and see them as assets (or even as something to not give such a shit about).
Unconditional Positive Regard
When clients work with me, they often tell me that they feel safe and accepted by my unflinching and unconditional positive regard toward them. I am fortunate in that being this way comes very natural for me, and I believe it has lead to very powerful and positive changes within my clients.
Oh, boy is this one ever evolving. I am naturally an anxious person, and for much of my life I lived in the shadow of my anxiety, too afraid to show my real self for fear of being rejected or seen as an imposter (um, hello imposter syndrome. Take a seat, I'll be with you in a minute). Truthfully? My clients inspire me to be more courageous every day. I'm reminded that we all have our own inner demons, but it's in how we face them that enhances our courage and strengthens our resilience.
Some days, I’m not as aligned with my values as I’d like to be, but that’s the cool thing about them. They don’t simply vanish if you’ve strayed from them. They’re one of the few paths that will reappear whenever we set our intentions to follow them. What are your values?