Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a two-day training with Dr. Steven C. Hayes in Las Vegas, Nevada. When asked if he created Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), he responded, “thousands of people have helped develop ACT, I just lit the match.” A very humble response for someone who has dedicated 30 years of his life to creating, developing, researching and training a powerful modality that has and will continue to help so many people.
One of the most powerful experiences was participating in a guided meditation where Dr. Hayes had me access my transcendent sense of self. In a room of about 200 people, he asked us to close our eyes and imagine a very challenging emotional problem. I instantly recalled my lifelong struggle with social anxiety. He asked us to place that emotional pain in our lap and observe what happens in our body and mind. I noticed instant sadness and emotional pain. He asked us to hold this pain lightly and step out and observe ourselves sitting in the chair. I noticed tears running down my cheeks as I did this. Next, he asked us to imagine ourselves walking across the room, bringing to mind a wiser, future self to observe our current self. I noticed even more emotion, a combination of sadness, relief and self-compassion as I did this. Together we imagined a kind statement our future self could give our current self. I instantly thought, “be kind to yourself.” (Kathy Wickersham imagined the exact same statement.) We then envisioned putting this statement on a piece of paper and carrying it with us as we went about our day. I walked away from that exercise with a profound feeling of hope. We can access this wise, self-compassionate part of ourselves whenever we wish, to aid us in the process of living a meaningful life that includes pain.
I believe it is very rare that we are able to meet and learn from someone we view as one of our heroes. Someone as authentic, accessible and gifted intellectually and clinically as Dr. Steven C. Hayes. He has written over 45 books and 600 scientific articles. I am in awe of his vision and efforts over 30 years as a pioneer in psychology. I am just so grateful to directly learn and watch him as he role played, acted as a practitioner; as well as participating in his guided mindfulness exercises and debriefing. I felt like a little kid before Christmas being able to speak with him on our breaks, have him sign my book and share space with someone who lives and breathes his passion to liberate human suffering. So powerful.
Pictured (left to right): Kathy Wickersham, Dr. Steven C Hayes, Chase Wickersham
For more information about therapy using ACT processes, email or call me today.
Wishing you love, hope and prosperity on your journey.
Chase Wickersham, LCSW