PESI author Timothy Gordon, MSW, RSW, sat down with Guy Macpherson, PhD, to discuss his new book, The Act Approach, and card deck, Coping Skills For Trauma, on a 2019 September episode of The Trauma Therapist Podcast. Here are some highlights from the interview: Tim Gordon (2:48):
I came to ACT after having already developed a repertoire of skills as a trauma therapist. And when I discovered ACT—I had been feeling a little bit desperate—and I found this thing that just clicked, like all the pieces worked. And I was like, “Oh, yeah, this is what I was looking for.”And it was hard to pick it up from there because at the time there weren't a lot of resources that made ACT very, let's say, palatable. Guy Macpherson (3:28):
Why did it make sense to you? Why did it jump out to you? Tim Gordon (3:36):
I want to start with acceptance, the first letter in the acronym ACT. This idea of acceptance as an alternative
to control. So, one of the things that I found myself personally as a young, white guy trying to help people who are in these really dark places in their lives who are marginalized, who are facing systemic oppression…I found that the models that I was being trained in had this very sort of white knight, almost patriarchal approach.
Very much like, “Okay, I'm going to come in, I have this treatment that I'm going to do to you. And as this healing provider, I'm going to do this good work and this is going be the outcome. Here's our metric of success.”
This position of saying you're suffering, you're in a dark place, and I can learn how to be here with you. I can learn how to sit with it. I can learn how to see what you see. And maybe if we could sit with that darkness, what possibly could grow from it. Like no longer needing to defend against it and fight it, but like what could grow from that position. That came into my life in a place where it touched my heart personally in a meaningful way. Guy Macpherson (8:23): Why did you write this book? Tim Gordon (8:30):
I wanted to write the book—and please, I hope this comes out with the utmost humility because I didn't know this book would be a success. I wrote the book that I needed when I was learning ACT. I've been giving workshops for years. I've finely tuned how I give an intensive, two-day workshop to people who are new clinicians and students as well as people who are seasoned, veteran clinicians who've been out there working for and grinding it for a long time. This book comes from a place of saying, I wish that this is what I had when I was learning ACT. Tim Gordon (9:52):
What I wanted to do with the book, with my coauthor, is we wanted to create a way of talking about ACT that would gently introduce people to the actual practice, demonstrate to them that we're not going to dictate to you…
…Training them on what is the science that makes this stuff work. And that's the difficulty in writing an ACT book because ACT is not a simply linear treatment. It's process-based. And so, what we're doing is we're looking for how do we create acceptance on the fly, in the moment, with our clients? Well, we can instigate it, but we can also model it ourselves. We can reinforce it, right? And we can be in a place of acceptance with our clients. We can show them from outside of that place what that might look like. There’s so much that we can do with just that acceptance-based process work. That's where the book came from—how can we subvert clinicians into getting into this nerdy science stuff but in a way, that will feel relevant and very practical for them.
Listen to the full interview:
Coping Skills for Trauma Deck features 54 practices to overcome trauma-related stressors, deal with shame and guilt, and increase resiliency.
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Timothy Gordon, MSW, RSW,
is a social worker, peer-reviewed ACT trainer, international presenter, and author.
Tim has a mission to offer evidence-based psychotherapy to help others live full and abundant lives. He specializes in working with attachment and trauma issues, including children and adolescents who have suffered abuse. He is the co-author of The ACT Approach: A Comprehensive Guide for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
(PESI, 2017) and The ACT Deck: 55 Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Practices to Build Connection, Find Focus and Reduce Stress
(PESI, 2017). He has also authored a self-help book integrating ACT with attachment-based therapeutic practices into his work. He was an instructor of the Clinical Behavioral Sciences program, where he taught ACT at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
As Tim presents ACT workshops around the world, he is renowned for his passion and his experiential approach to training professionals.
Learn more about his educational products, including his upcoming live seminars, by clicking here.