Conversation 2: Action & Experience versus Thought & Emotion

Introducing Defusion

Listen to this introduction as audio, or read below.

Introducing Defusion – a recording of Julian McNally (2:07 min) 

(“Introducing Defusion” by RMIT Counselling and Psychological Services, Six ACT* Conversations, RMIT University is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Welcome to Conversation 2 of Six ACT Conversations – a program from RMIT University designed to help you live a balanced and fulfilling life while completing your program of study.

The program uses concepts from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – or ACT for short. But it is not meant to take the place of counselling, psychotherapy or mental health treatment. Although you can use the program in any sequence you wish, you should read the about this resource section before starting.

This conversation, we’ll look at Experience versus Thought, which continues logically from where we finished in Conversation 1: Language creates Conflict. Of course, you don’t have to listen to that conversation to get some benefits from this one. However, if you find you are struggling to make sense of the exercises, or especially why I am asking you to do some of the exercises, you may find it helpful to listen to or revise that section.

Woman reading a book with tea and flowers
Photo by Thought Catalogue on Unsplash

In this conversation we will introduce you to an alternative to trying to gain control of your thoughts and feelings. For the sake of consistency, we’ll call this alternative approach defusion, but the process is recognised by other names. Before I encountered ACT, I would have called it inclusion. Dr Russ Harris refers to it in his book, The Happiness Trap, as expansion. Rather than provide a lot of theoretical description of it though, this conversation will mostly ask you to practise specific defusion exercises – that way you’ll learn what defusion is and how you might use it through first-hand experience.

In this conversation of the program, we’ll do five defusion exercises. You can replay these segments of the program any time you want to practise defusion. After the five exercises, I’ll describe some other defusion exercises you can practise without a recording. These exercises will be available as handouts. You can also find many similar defusion exercises in the two ACT self-help books I’ve referred to: Get Out Of Your Mind and Into Your Life by Steven Hayes, and The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris.



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