Traumatic experiences can have significant, and long-lasting, effects on the individuals who survive them. Frequently, clients who live through trauma experience a host of behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and physical health problems. When these individuals come to therapy, most of them are hoping that they will be able to eliminate the nightmares, memories, anger, anxiety, and other posttraumatic symptoms that they experience. In fact, most of them have tried many things (such as isolation, substance abuse, even suicide attempts) to manage these symptoms. However, what many of these individuals fail to realize is that their heroic efforts to avoid the pain of their posttraumatic experiences may actually be making things worse - and may even be the heart of the problem. In many ways, despite their best efforts, trauma survivors frequently find themselves trapped in a life that is largely devoted to the avoidance of pain. Effective empirically supported treatments for posttraumatic symptoms have been developed to aid trauma survivors in improving traditional PTSD symptoms. However, they are not universally effective, and not all clients are willing to engage in exposure-based treatment. In addition, given the high levels of psychiatric comorbidity with PTSD, treatments are needed that can cut across diagnostic categories and begin to treat presenting problems based on functional dimensions. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a contemporary behavior therapy, provides an alternative to the feel-good agenda and instead focuses on helping clients to reconnect with those ideals and principles for living that are deeply important to them and that dignify the difficult events that they have survived. This presentation will introduce clinicians to contextual behavioral tools to work with trauma survivors on identifying each person’s valued life directions and then help motivate experiential acceptance and behavior change in the service of those values.
|Sonja V. Batten, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist with a specialization in traumatic stress, who has worked in policy, clinical, and research leadership positions in the public and private sectors. Dr. Batten is a peer-reviewed ACT trainer, a Past-President and Fellow of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, the author of Essentials of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and the co-author of Committed Action in Practice. Dr. Batten is an experienced leader with a demonstrated history of working in the management consulting and health care industries. She is also a certified Change Management Practitioner and an experienced Executive Coach and Mentor.