Our Approach

Approach - Portland Mindfulness Therapy

“Present-Minded Makes It Possible”

Our therapists and class instructors are specially trained in providing mindfulness-based therapy and educational services.

Our Approach

Being mentally healthy relies on the ability to disentangle and separate from the “voice” in our head that tells us things that aren’t helping us. It’s not about “positive thinking,” it’s about not taking thoughts so seriously. That’s difficult, but can be learned: this is a central task of mindfulness therapy.

Mindfulness-based therapies are among the most current and best-supported psychotherapeutic treatments that are available. Mindfulness teaches that the way to create healthy, positive changes begins by being able to fully experience what is happening in the present moment.

Why Mindfulness?

Being “mindless” means to be lost, to not pay full attention to what is happening here, now. When we are under stress, we tend to become mindless, and our thoughts, emotions, relationships, and problems become more difficult. Mindfulness-based therapy teaches that as we learn to be present with our thoughts, emotions, relationships, and problems, the more workable they become.

What’s “Being Present?” Aren’t we always “present,” anyway?

The idea of “being present” seems simple, but we habitually spend much of our time stuck in our thoughts about the past and future, rather than being actively engaged in what is happening right now. Worrying about the future, ruminating about the past: these are ways we try to control what we’re feeling, usually unsuccessfully. We often try somehow to avoid or cover-over emotions or conflicts that are uncomfortable or painful. Sadly, the more we try to ignore them or push feelings or thoughts away, the more they seem to get worse. Change can only happen in the present moment, and can only happen when we stop avoiding what we wish to change.

When you know where you are, you begin to see where you really want to go. In this way, acceptance opens the door to making healthy, positive changes. This is our approach to helping you improve your emotional well-being, find ways to work with problems, and reach your goals. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call us at 503-222-2361.

What’s Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is our primary therapeutic approach at Portland Mindfulness.

Since you’ve scrolled down this far, you’re probably be interested in knowing some more about this approach that we value highly and use extensively here. You can also learn about ACT in a series of “edutainment” videos created by Dr. Joe Rhinewine.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a mindfulness-oriented, evidence-supported, highly scientifically informed behavior therapy. It is derived from basic behavior science findings. It is set apart from other behavior therapies in that it deals explicitly with cognition (thinking). It has been strongly influenced by findings concerning language in behavior science, specifically, those findings that are grouped under the general theory known as Relational Frame Theory (RFT). It has also been influenced by findings concerning “Ironic Processes,” as well as properties of organisms behaving under “aversive stimulus control,” meaning behavior motivated primarily by punishing stimuli. Aversive stimulus control is explained best by Kelly Wilson, PhD, one of several primary developers of ACT. The general idea is that if you want someone to be creative, flexible and adaptive, they probably will do so best when they don’t feel threatened. On the other hand, people and animals behave in a rigid, uncreative, stereotyped manner when they are threatened with punishment of some kind. For us humans, usually the threatened punishment is in our imagination, our thoughts about possible bad or undesired things happening to us.

ACT is a kind of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

ACT (pronounced like the word “act” rather than “ay-cee-tee,”) is a kind of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) but differs from other Cognitive-Behavioral therapies in that it places an emphasis on acceptance of thoughts and feelings rather than attempting to change them. There’s a really good reason for this, which is that research suggests strongly that intentional control of thoughts and feelings often backfires and produces the opposite result as what was intended. Further, attempts to show that the improvements people show in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are due to changes in thinking have not been successful.  Further, behavioral research evidence suggests strongly that behavior changes are best accomplished through acceptance of what is not readily changed, and a shift in efforts of control toward that which is indeed readily changeable. There is something of a paradox involved, in that the “change” processes of ACT are exactly the “acceptance” processes. Acceptance undermines and can break vicious circles that can underlie painful states such as anxiety and depression. So ACT accomplishes change via acceptance. Which is kinda deep when you think about it.