Collaborative Acceptance-Based Therapy
Dr. Welches' approach to therapy is collaborative and acceptance-based. What does that mean? "Collaborative" refers the nature of the therapeutic relationship. Dr. Welches attempts to understand your world as you experience it, and assists you in exploring your deeper-held values - and the kind of person you want to be and the life you want to live. In therapy, you will access and enhance your personal strengths, and transform your values into actionable goals.
Many people experience that their life dreams and values are interfered with by disturbing thoughts (such as worries, preoccupations, and self-criticisms) or by unpleasant emotions (such as anxieties, anger, depression, or grief). Yet, it is actually one's reaction to unwanted thoughts, emotions, urges, and sensations that gets in the way. Reactions may take two general forms: "fusing" with the experience or trying to eliminate the experience. Fusing with - such as identifying oneself with - a thought or a feeling may limit one's flexibility and growth-potential. For example, if I identify myself as someone who always succeeds, I may be anxious in the presence of and may be reluctant to accept challenges that risk failing. If I attempt to avoid or eliminate uncomfortable experiences, I may experience short-term relief, but it may be at the expense of limiting my options for life fulfillment; such as school, career, friends, love, and other important desires or ambitions.
"Acceptance-based" means that the person practices accepting, rather than fusing with, struggling with or becoming entangled in, the unpleasant or disturbing thoughts and feelings. The classic "finger trap" is sometimes used as a metaphor to describe this dynamic: the more one pulls, the tighter the trap gets. The solution is twofold: to accept distressing experiences, rather than engage in struggles with them; and to commit to and act on what's important to you and where you want you life to go. This is a psychological method for liberation and progress. Acceptance is facilitated through guided reflection on circumstances, and through mindful awareness of experience.
Guided reflection is a therapy process wherein you practice suspending your judgements and assumptions in order to more clearly explore and better understand your concepts of self, others, and your individual circumstances. Through this process, you have the opportunity to develop and experience broader and more flexible perspectives and options.
Mindfulness practice helps to increase awareness. During mindfulness, you observe whatever presents in your experiential field - thoughts, emotions, sensations, urges to act, and so on - whatever presents on your "mental screen." While observing, you practice not fusing (attaching) with and not attempting to avoid these phenomena. You just let them come and go without attempting to control them - without trying to cling to them or push them away. Mindfulness helps you to accept experiences as there are, freeing you to act in ways that are consistent with how you want your life to proceed.
While psychological inflexibility and avoidance can "shrink" one's perspective and options, and lead to general life dissatisfaction, acceptance accompanied by commitment to value-based living is a path of personal growth - a path of openings and opportunities - a path that is within your reach.