Tag Archive for: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Recently, I saw a client who had made a significant and rapid shift from being depressed, anxious and uncertain to being very self confident after only ten sessions of Affect Regulation Therapy. I thought this was a good illustration of how the client had done the bulk of his self development work using a variety of psychotherapies over several years and how Affect Regulation Therapy could complete the personal development process in an elegant way for the client.

So I asked the client to give a personal account of his therapy experience and this is what he wrote:

‘I believe that I am a victim of child trauma, which until recently, has been untreated, incorrectly treated, then well treated but with little effect.

About 25 years ago, the career stresses were so overwhelming that for the first time in my life I engaged in the abuse of prescription as well as recreational drugs. This led to anxiety attacks & adopting a psychiatric approach which involved minor tranquilizers as well as antidepressants. The whole exercise was a total disaster and made my symptoms worse. I decided to drop the meds and shrinks and learn to live with it.

About 10 years ago, the relationship woes that were sitting on top of my inner child injuries were so severe that I decided to disconnect from everyone who was causing me distress & had ever caused me distress.

As horrible as this move was for all concerned, it was the beginning of my healing.

My first long term therapy involved family systems study, mindfulness and inner child work, all of which I feel was on the right track but not powerful enough for my “condition”.

Next I tried ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), which is a fine method – I find it useful for everyday stresses – eg if the bills are hard to pay, I can practice cognitive defusion as a way of accepting the stress without being overwhelmed by it.

All of these methods enabled me to realise that I was living in a house with bad foundations, understanding & accepting the situation with grace, and getting on as best I could.

What Affect Regulation Therapy enabled me to do was to rebuild the foundations.

I didn’t just soothe my inner child. I was able to empower him. Now I feel assertive….and liberated. Not in an arrogant way – actually, I find that I have more empathy for others, because I am not as worried about my inner child. My question to those with a similar history would be: “Why accept, when you can rebuild?”

This testimonial illustrates how complementary Affect Regulation Therapy  can be to other psychotherapies and how  ideal for clients who need more long term work because of childhood trauma. The rapid and dramatic changes in the client are made possible because of his previous self development work. He had already laid a good foundation on which to build.

It is good for clients to know that any personal development work they do is always a building block towards future wellbeing. It is helpful to use different therapy methods. And Affect Regulation Therapy  can be an ideal method to move the client to next level of wellbeing and health after other psychotherapies.






When psychologists start using their Affect Regulation Therapy skills immediately after their training they often choose to work with their long-term clients first. They seem to be more comfortable explaining the new techniques to clients with whom they have a well established trust relationship. At the time their clients have often had several months, or in some cases several years of psychotherapy.

One of my trainees, a counseling psychologist, explained to me that she had been using CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) with a client for 12 months to treat several anxieties.  The client felt anxious in social situations and had not driven a car for six years. She started A.R.T. and after six sessions her client noticed  more confidence socially and he also started driving again. The client also felt he was getting a better result from hypnotherapy after A.R.T.

In another instance, I recently got the feedback from an A.R.T. practitioner, also using her new skills with her long-term clients, that her clients observed immediate improvements in mental clarity and better emotional control after A.R.T. They felt less emotional over-reactivity and sensitivity.

The evidence here points to the value of A.R.T. as a preparation for other psychotherapy techniques, such as CBT, EMDR, ACT and hypnotherapy. And A.R.T. also has unique ‘add on’ benefits for clients who have already had those particular psychotherapies.

When A.R.T. is used as a preparation for other psychotherapies, therapists can find that their clients respond much faster and better to their interventions. The reason for this is that A.R.T. can very specifically reduce emotional stress and lower hyper-arousal states. This means clients become more receptive to cognitively based approaches after A.R.T. Practically this means less work for the client, faster results and being able  to use their often limited funds to cover more  psychological ground, so better quality of life for the client.

Where the client has already been treated long-term with one of the abovementioned treatment methods, A.R.T. can be very effective in still further improving client wellbeing by accessing and developing certain psycho-social-emotional-cognitive areas not previously tapped into. Developing these areas proffers the hallmarks of A.R.T. benefits: the increased mental clarity, emotional regulation, emotional appropriateness and better cognitive/emotional balance. It is fairly standard for clients to specifically report these improvements in their mental health after A.R.T., even when they have had many years of cognitive-behavior or a psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Based on my own observations in my practice and also on the feedback I regularly get from my trainees A.R.T. delivers certain unique benefits to clients’ mental health and it is a valuable aid at any stage in a psychotherapy process.