ACT Study Groups
These ongoing study groups for health care and behavioral health professionals will focus on developing proficiency with acceptance & commitment therapy (ACT). The groups are for folks who have already done at least one introductory workshop on ACT and perhaps some self-study and are eager to deepen their skills. (You can see this month’s agenda by reviewing posts on the main page.)
Goals of the groups: Participants will learn to conceptualize cases from an ACT perspective, present cases and exchange consultation and peer supervision for current clinical cases, study the six ACT core processes, practice practical skills, recommend and share readings, track developments in ACT and RFT (Relational Frame Theory) research, and support one another as they add ACT skills to their existing approaches to treatment. In contrast to some other formats (e.g., workshops or a peer consultation group), I hope to encourage members to continually assess their proficiency and confidence with ACT skills and processes and to share this process with the group. Between meetings, I will organize ways to address members’ questions and concerns and help to move folks forward. Subsequent meetings will address members’ questions and struggles understanding and applying ACT concepts and continually nudge folks toward greater competence with ACT.
When I was designing the ACT Study Group, I remembered how excited I was after my introduction to ACT in graduate school (1999) but also how long it took me to become and feel competent with ACT. My goal was to create a forum to support and expedite this process. I believe this format has clear advantages over other paths to learning ACT. The social aspect is an improvement over self-study. The small group size is conducive to active discussion, interaction, and development of a safe environment for experimenting with unfamiliar ideas and new approaches. The exchanges between seasoned ACT therapists and those relatively new to this approach keeps the process fresh. The ongoing learning that occurs from month-to-month encourages a steady integration of new ideas and skills at members’ own paces and in a manner just not possible in stand-alone workshops. Lastly, the combination of directed learning and ongoing self-assessment makes this more effective than the less structured, self-directed format of a peer consultation group.
This experiment has produced a flexible, dynamic group that continues to evolve since it began. As a testament to its value, most of the original members have chosen to continue in the group since it formed several years ago. The group has also been valuable to me and enjoyable to run. You can read more about this group at the website listed on front.
Group members: Groups will be organized and led by Joel Guarna, PhD, licensed psychologist in the state of Maine who has been studying and using ACT since 1999 and been leading ACT workshops and educational experiences since 2005. The group includes many seasoned clinicians from various behavioral health disciplines including psychology, social work, mental health counseling, and drug and alcohol counseling. Several participants have extensive experience with ACT and other mindfulness-based therapy approaches. Others are relatively new to ACT. Everyone’s perspective is respected and valued and the tone is collegial and supportive.
Group format: Each study group has 8-10 active members. There are currently two active study groups in Portland:
- 1st Monday of each month, 8 am to 9:30 am. This group has been running for over two years and is currently full with a short wait list. Contact me for details about being on the waiting list to join this group as soon as an opening becomes available. You can see this month’s agenda by reviewing posts on the main page.
- 4th Monday of each month, 8 am to 9:30 am. This group began in the spring of 2015 and is currently full with a short wait list. Contact me for details about being on the waiting list to join this group as soon as an opening becomes available. You can see this month’s agenda by reviewing posts on the main page.
Based on the interest in these groups and their apparent value to participants, I am currently exploring the possibility of holding study groups in locations outside Portland. If you are interested in participating in a study group in far southern Maine or on the midcoast (e.g., Brunswick, Augusta) or elsewhere, please give me some feedback here.
I am also considering a once-monthly virtual meeting (via some online service) for folks who cannot make it to Portland. Please contact me if interested in any of these options.
Portland meetings, 2015 rate: 90 minute meeting 1 x per month: $30 ($5 goes into Southern Maine ACT Community Fund toward future events and workshops like the annual retreat or inviting ACT trainers from away to visit us here in Maine). Note for clinicians in private practice: This sort of activity is likely to generate referrals. I will be surprised if it does not pay for itself in short time.
If interested, you can also contact me by email.
In the meantime, please sign up to receive more information, updates, and my newsletter about programs and services for the general public, potential clients, and behavioral health professionals.
For individuals interested in more standard, time-limited workshops, I offer occasional introductory and intermediate trainings. You can also find ACT workshops offered by others in the area at the ACT in New England website or worldwide at the ACBS training calendar.