Chief of Psychology and Systems Redesign Consultant
VA Medical Center, Augusta, ME
Functional Contextualism, Relational Frame Theory, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, The Matrix–and Evolution
March 5, 2012
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a therapeutic method based on a philosophy of science called functional contextualism (FC) and a theoretical framework called Relational Frame Theory (RTF). RFT is centrally concerned with the human capacity for symbolic thought. ACT works by increasing a person’s behavioral flexibility and helping them to examine their true goals in life, i.e. their criteria for selecting behaviors. As such, RFT and ACT converge with recent developments in evolutionary science, which treat our open-ended capacity for individual and cultural change as evolutionary process, made possible by learning and symbolic thought as inheritance systems. Dr. Polk will approach this convergence from the perspective of an experienced clinical psychologist and systems redesign consultant.
I’m a clinical psychologist who started as an industrial organizational psychologist for masters work, ended up doing an experimental psychology dissertation (The effects of repetition priming on a word recognition task), and ended up a clinical psychologist. I’ve worked with veterans struggling with trauma memories for 23 years at the Togus VA. For almost as many years I’ve maintained a private practice, primarily doing consulting work, including stress management interventions for lay people and businesses. About eight years ago I read about ACT at work and saw great utility in the approach. Then I learned of ACT as a therapy, and saw it as a great way to work with people suffering with trauma memories. My colleagues and I dove deep into the Functional Contextual (FC) philosophy and the theory of language and cognition (Relational Frame Theory (RFT)) that are the foundation of ACT. I am a person who is driven to simplify, and after years of boiling down FC, RFT and ACT, I arrived at the Matrix diagram. My talk will tie together Functional Contextualism, Relational Frame Theory, ACT, the Matrix and Evolution.
(both required for Current Topics Students)