Next week I'm going to the world Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Conference, in Reno, Nevada. How exciting is that?
Very! That's how. And before that I'm attending a mindfulness retreat IN LAKE TAHOE.
Lake Tahoe is apparently breathtaking. In contrast, Reno is apparently like a sort of tacky, low-brow Las Vegas.
I loved Las Vegas, and consider myself both tacky and low-brow, so this looks a perfect fit.
It might seem strange for a psychologist specialising in career decisions to be attending a conference for therapists, but career indecision is very rarely what it seems. People usually feel so chained to the present that it's no suprise they can't find an answer simply with a few questions about their interests and a nice psychometric test 'matching' them to their ideal career.
(Regular readers may remember my ideal career is, in fact, dental hygienist).
Career indecision is almost always linked to deeper problems and a kind of existential paralysis which is very difficult to budge. After all, we've learned to think a certain way - how do we unchain ourselves using that same brain?
ACT is a type of therapy with two insights of inestimable value. Firstly, mindfulness allows us to pay attention to the world (and ourselves) as it is, not as our minds say it is. By accepting our dilemmas, history, difficult thoughts and emotions we can listen more carefully to our pain. For in the pain is a message, but it's usually one we're trying to ignore or avoid.
Secondly, by emphasising values as a choice, not as a kind of innate strength, clients can learn the most empowering message of all. Namely, if I am willing to accept myself as I am, to hold all of my difficult history and baggage, then I can freely choose my direction in life.
I believe ACT - when combined with sensible decision making advice and research - can improve the quality of career decisions and help us escape the chains that hold us back.
Oh and did I mention Lake Tahoe?