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The Most Commonly Proven Skill of Importance to Mental Health & Emotional Well-Being

In (approximately) 2018, five researchers (Steven C. Hayes, Stefan Hofmann, Joe Ciarrochi, Baljinder Sahdra, and Fred Chin) began a study on psychosocial interventions and mental health outcomes. As it was discovered (and we are all aware of) there is not just one pathway to change. Each pathway supports people in different ways and contexts. However, through this study, the researchers found that psychological flexibility accounted for up to 55% of the explanation for successful therapy.

What is psychological flexibility? I am glad you asked, because honestly, I had zero idea this was a "thing" before I read Dr. Hayes' article in my Psychology Today magazine.

Psychology flexibility is like having 3 skills in 1. The first skill is awareness - noticing things in the present moment (essentially using all 5 senses to bring this awareness). The present moment, or the "now", needs to be attentively experienced, and that requires us to not get caught up in our own head.

The second skill is openness. This means allowing yourself to feel and process difficult thoughts and painful feelings exactly as they are. And with openness, it isn't about resolving these thoughts and painful feelings before moving forward (sometimes the harder you try to eliminate pain, the more it will control your life). Allow your thoughts and feelings to be just that - thoughts and feelings - taking away the control and power they may have previously had on your life.

The third skill is valued engagement. This means knowing what matters to you and taking steps in that direction - being in tune with your values and your goals. The important thing is your values, which are the personal qualities you choose to manifest and be guided by regardless of the outcome, are to be freely chosen by you - not forced on you by other people or mindlessly followed out of custom or habit. Once you know what matters to you, you can take action to build your habits to reach your goals (by the way if you haven't read Atomic Habits yet, do it, it is a game-changer).

When we work together, the basis is mindfulness and mindset, rooted in the present and working towards the future through the identification of your specific values and goals. Our time together is collaborative and action oriented. This lays the foundation and acts as a target for change. What are you waiting for? Reach out today and let's get started.

("Why Therapy Works" by Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D., Psychology Today, January/February 2023, Volume 56, No.1)

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