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Leeds BABCP conference: Kelly Wells ACT plenary and a skills class on imagery for sport, exercise & life (7th post)

I have already written four blog posts about the pre-conference workshop I attended (on Fatigue) and a couple of posts on the conference proper - "Two symposia on how CBT works, Paul Salkovskis's plenary and the compassion special interest group" and "Therapeutic stories & metaphors".  Today's post looks further at the second day of this annual BABCP get-together with comments on Kelly Wells's plenary lecture on Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Jennifer Cumming on application of imagery for athletes and exercisers.

Kelly Wilson is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Mississippi.  Psychology Today notes "He is Past President of the Association for  Contextual Behavioral Science ... and is one of the co-developers of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) ... Wilson has devoted himself to the development and dissemination of ACT and its underlying theory and philosophy for the  past 20 years, and has published numerous articles and chapters, as well as 6 books including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: An Experiential Approach to Behavior Change and his newest books Mindfulness for Two and Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong.  He has central interests in the application of behavioral principles to understanding topics such as purpose, meaning and values, therapeutic relationship, and mindfulness. Wilson is the founder of Onelife Education and Training, LLC and has presented workshops and provided consultancy in 20 countries, and has participated in a wide range of research projects in the U.S., Sweden, Spain and the United Kingdom."  Kelly's personal & lab webpage gives a bunch of useful details including listing his research articles & other publications.

The abstract of his presentation read: "Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has experienced extraordinary growth in recent decades and has led the way in evidence-based clinical psychology.  CBT encompasses a diverse group of science-based treatments that has evolved from its earliest roots in the behavior therapies of 1950's and 60's to its current dominant form that includes a variety of cognitive interventions.  The CBT movement remains dynamic and evolving.  Some CBT strategies like cognitive disputation strategies are giving way to more acceptance and mindfulness-oriented approaches.  In addition, the role of values has begun to receive increased attention.  Although these approaches may appear to diverge from traditional CBT, they emerge from the same commitment to science-based treatments.  In this address, I will describe a unified model for CBT called the Psychological Flexibility Model.  The model is most closely connected with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, but has much broader implications for applied psychology.  The model has been applied with good benefits to a wide variety of psychological difficulties, including psychosis, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, to multi-problem Axis-II clients, to a variety of physical health problems, as well as to educational and workplace concerns.  Evidence from basic psychological science, experimental psychopathology, and clinical trials will be presented in support of the model.  Finally, suggestions will be made for the ongoing development of psychological models that move beyond current diagnostic and treatment systems."

The talk was stimulating and lots of fun from the Muddy Waters playing at the start to the burst of Beatles music later on.  Ideas from the so-called third wave therapies have influenced much of CBT.  For me the crunch is still the crucial question "Do these new approaches translate into improved outcomes for clients?"  The honest answer probably continues to be "It's still unproven that these ideas add much value to more standard CBT approaches".  Ost's critical meta-analysis - "Efficacy of the third wave of behavioral therapies: A systematic review and meta-analysis" - still stands as a major challenge to third wave enthusiasts to develop a better evidence base to support their therapeutic claims.  And to give them their respectful due, this is exactly what many of them are trying to do.  The jury is still out ... but hey, ACT associates like Kelly sure look like they're having more fun - see for example his "Tasty behaviorism" teaching site with its comment "Student: Mmmmm ... this behaviorism tastes mighty FINE. I always thought it was dry as a skinless chicken breast. what's in it?  Prof Wilson: it's my own special blend of super-pragmatism AND empiricism, with just a dash of INTEREST in human liberation - that's what gives it the extra zing!"

In the afternoon of the second full day of the conference I went to a "skills workshop" with Jennifer Cumming, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Birmingham.  As the School proudly points out on its website "We are ranked first in the UK among the Sport and Exercise Sciences Institutes in the latest Research Assessment Exercise."  Good on them.  The skills workshop was entitled "Seeing the difference: The application of cognitive and motivational imagery to athletes and exercisers" and it's abstract read: "Imagery is an established mental technique that improves performance in both sport and exercise.  Its main purpose is to aid self-regulation of thoughts, feelings and behaviours, whether this is during preparation of an elite athlete for performing on the world stage or helping an individual feel more confident in overcoming barriers to exercise.  Research over the last decade has considerably advanced our understanding of how to improve the effectiveness of imaging and how to best implement these benefits.  Drawing from this literature, the skills class will introduce the latest models on the application of imagery for a range of cognitive, affective and behavioural outcomes, such as building self-confidence or regulating anxiety levels."

Jennifer's website - www.Jennifercumming.com - gives lots of useful information about her work, including

and http://works.bepress.com/jennifer_cumming provides downloadable full text copies of many her publications

More to follow ...

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