The Core Component of Mental Health: Psychological Flexibility

 

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You have decided that you are going to get help for yourself or your loved one. I hope that you give yourself some love just for that decision.  Now comes the challenge of choosing the practitioner and approach to assist you in overcoming barriers to a life of vitality.  I thought I would start a new series of posts about the Psychological Flexibility model used by the team at Sogge & Associates.  I do this in hopes of helping you make your decision about whether the practitioners and the approach that we embody at Sogge & Associates might be the right one for you.  While examining the model of change used by your future psychologist might seem like an overly scrupulous and somewhat irrelevant task, we think that the model of changed used by your psychologist is of key importance, and that the Psychological Flexibility Model is one of the distinguishing features that differentiates those at Sogge & Associates and the other providers of all stripes whom you may find in your online searches.

 

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If you examine and compare models of change used by psychology providers closely, you will see that the differences between their models of change could add up to an orthogonal shift in how you are challenged and supported in your journey to transformation.

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The Psychological Flexibility Model, fleshed out by Stephen Hayes and his laboratory of researchers at the University of Nevada Reno has transformed the way I work with my own suffering and with the suffering of my patients.  In my experience as a clinician, this model has allowed me to integrate mindfulness and acceptance practices with skillful commitment and change behaviours, more effectively than any other model of change that I have encountered.  In doing so, the Psychological Flexibility model has encouraged me to cultivate in myself and in the patients with whom I am honored to work a vital balance between passionately embracing and finding meaning in the difficulties one encounters in life, and committing to bold and vitality-inducing changes in behaviour and ways of being.

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 The image of the Psychological Flexibility model  threaded throughout this post is on display in our clinic in the Golden Triangle of Ottawa, Canada, as much to remind us as clinicians what we are doing, as to embody our values of transparency and collaboration with our clients. We want you to see the map that we are using to guide you.

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We think  it is fair for a traveller to ask their mountain guide about the landscape they are traversing.  At any time during your work at our clinic, you may wish to ask yourself or your clinician: “Where on the Psychological Flexibility Model (also known as The Hexaflex) are we right now?”.  As clinicians, we continually assess where to intervene to best support your individual change process, and as we exercise our clinical skills on behalf of your wellbeing, we should be aware of where we are operating from in the matrix of acceptance and change processes. Ultimately, each point in the Psychological Flexibiility model matrix is an avenue into the psychological flexibility central to health and vitality.  If we are effective at what we do, we will eventually teach you specific skills that enable you to access psychological flexibility in the service of your values, from any point on the model, at any time, whether you are in proximity to your psychologist or not. This is the point of psychotherapy: ultimately we make ourselves redundant and to give you the tools to find wellbeing and freedom.

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So this is the map. As they say, before you can travel somewhere, you need to know where you are on the map. I hope that you find this scaffolding useful, as we begin to climb challenging terrain together to new and hitherto unexplored regions in your life.

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Looking forward to sharing more with you in the coming days,

Kimberly Sogge PhD CPsych (CPO#4531)

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