My guest today is an experienced Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) practitioner and author, Ingrid Ord. Ingrid talks about the connection between ACT and Christianity.
How did Ingrid develop an interest in ACT? What is ACT and how does it work? How does ACT help with anxiety and OCDTaking your anxiety along with you. ACT and faith in GodBible characters who went through hard times and learned to accept their situationsIngrid’s book, ACT with Faith
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Carrie: Hope for anxiety and OCD, episode 65. If you’re new to the show, I’m your host Carrie Bock. And we are all about using shame, increasing hope and developing healthier connections with God and others. If you’ve been a fan of the show for a long time, you know that we love to discuss different types of therapy on here. I could be helpful for people who are struggling with anxiety or OCD. One of the reasons I like to do that is because you always hear people say, “eh, I tried therapy, It didn’t work for me”. Did therapy not work because it wasn’t the right modality for you. Did therapy not work because you didn’t have a great relationship with your therapist. There are so many variables there that we could die suck.
Today on this show, we are talking with Ingrid Ord, who is a therapist and author of ACT With Faith. ACT is a type of therapy that we’re gonna be talking about today. And that stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. If you want the long name, this wasn’t a therapy that I particularly knew a lot about. So it was interesting to learn from Ingrid. And I know it’s a therapy that’s being incorporated more and more in OCD treatment. I hope you enjoy this interview.
Ingrid I really believe that therapists choose modalities like types of therapy that align with them personally and professionally. So I’m curious in, how did you become so interested in acceptance and commitment therapy also referred to as ACT?
Ingrid: I’ve been working for a number of years, right? And the modality that I was in before I went to CBT and REBT was client-centered therapy, which fitted me very well. REBT, Rational, Emotive, Behavior, Therapy. And it can be quite very proactive and I found that quite hard. And then I found ACT and suddenly there was a therapy did all of the things that I’d been training up until that point. But allowed a much softer, gentler approach to actually being in the client’s space and not pulling them into your space.
Carrie: REBT is pretty confrontational.
Ingrid: It’s very confrontational and you have your disputations. It works really good. Was male lawyers.
Carrie: Certain populations it might necessary for us.
Ingrid: Certain populations. The thing with ACT is that it seems to work at the cold front. It’s one of the few therapies I’ve found that when the patient or the client actually needs it, it works for them.
Carrie: Okay. So tell us a little bit about what ACT therapy entails.
Ingrid: Well, very much as the name says, within the acceptance part, it’s about willingly accepting that we have experiences that we don’t want and going into the experience. And being with it because these experiences invariably, tell us something very important about our values. If I’m anxious about something, it’s probably because it’s something that there’s something in there that’s very important to me. So if I’m anxious about meeting someone, it could be that it’s very important to me to make a good impression on this person. And why is it important to me? Maybe I’m envisaging a future relationship or a job or something like that. It’s important to be within the experience itself. It’s tempting to not want to be there and to distract ourselves and to all the denial stuff. And so the link between accepting what we’ve got in the moment, committing ourselves to taking action, that will take us in the direction of our values. Never mind what’s going on. What’s very attractive to me.
Carrie: So there’s a sense of I’m accepting that I have anxiety about maybe going to a job interview because I want to look good or I really want a new job, but even though I’m anxious, I’m still gonna work through that to the point where I’m committed to saying,I’m still gonna put myself out there for this opportunity. I’m still gonna go to the interview and show up and do the best that I can do.
Ingrid: Yes. So you take public speaking is a common problem with many people often, you know, seen this done in, in workshops and I do it myself is to acknowledge to the people there, how anxious I am, but I’m here because this is very important to me putting this across is a very important thing. And so I brought my anxiety was me and I’m doing it anyway.
Carrie: That’s good. I imagine that what you’ve seen is that it can really help people with anxiety work through avoidance because avoidance really feeds that cycle of anxiety and makes everything worse.
Ingrid: No, yes. I have a very dear friend in the app community, Robin Molson.
She showed me in one of the first workshops. It’s a series of concentric circles. We’re right in the beginning of the circle is what you are not wondering. And then the next circle will be what you do to avoid it. And then the next circle will be the results of what you’re doing to avoid it. And then there’s another biggest circle, the results of the results. So you end up with a little problem in the middle and the huge amount of consequences from actually avoiding taking action and sit, you know, doing what you needed to do, whatever it is that you need to do that you’re anxious about.
Carrie: I’m curious about this in terms of OCD. Where people are taking action, but they’re doing things that they don’t want to be doing. They’re engaging in compulsion’s, you know, trying to get out of a repetitive thought patterns. What would ACT say for that?
Ingrid: Well, one of the first things within there is the good old exposure exercises that you do and help the person to expose themselves to the situation so that they actually feel the anxiety. The OCD is specialized sort of area in that not that you have to be specialized, but you just need to realize this, that the obsessions and the compulsions are they in order not to feel the anxiety. So you help the person to go backwards in the process to hopefully not do the compulsion or hopefully let the obsession go. And then they will feel the anxiety and expose themselves to the feeling of the anxiety as being something totally normal. It’s going to happen.
You have anxiety and you are doing all these things to stop yourself from feeling anxiety that is totally normal, but now it’s all become a big problem on its own.
So we need to unpick that take you backwards so that you see that you actually can feel the anxiety. And live and get on with things and it goes away. There’s always amazes me is how people are so amazed that it goes away, that you will stop thinking about this. You will, it will go away if you just stop listening to it, arguing with them.
Carrie: Right. And I think sometimes in OCD treatment, that first step is really developing an awareness of how this plays out in a person’s life. And then being able to separate, like, I am not my OCD. I’m dealing with OCD.
Ingrid: Oh, yes.
Carrie: But it’s not my character. I may be having these obsessions about hurting someone, but that’s not really my value system. My value system is in loving people and caring for people. And that’s been shown through their behavior.
Ingrid: Yes, absolutely. And it’s strange that you should mention that about, you know, not me and my values system. Because very often that is a factor within OCD is that things are occurring, obsessions, compulsions that are totally in opposition to what their value systems are, which of course creates an immense amount of guilt and shame and so on, and actually help the person to understand that because it’s in your value system. That’s why you have these, the very fact that you’re so afraid of that. Means you’re going to have the obsession of the compulsion.
Carrie: And we’ve talked about this before on the show, I think in your relationship to scrupulosity that people.
Carrie: Who are more spiritual and who have a connection to God are more likely to struggle with scrupulosity if they have OCD. I think that I can really see how this would be helpful for people that sense of there’s say acceptance over the issue. And then you had even said something earlier about you taking it along with you. Can you talk with us a little bit more about that? Cause I know that that’s also a principle.
Ingrid: I often use the metaphor of a backpackers over the shoulder bag and say, look, you’ve got this thing and it’s stuck to you and it’s not going to go away. It’s like one of those magnetic games as you move, it’s gonna move with you. So instead of spinning off, trying to push it away, put it in your backpack, put it in your sling bag and go and do what you want to do anyway, because it’s not gonna leave you.
So just go ahead and do it. And it really helps to visualize it as well. So sometimes, you know, I’ve had somebody visualize a little purple man who was just giving her absolutely. Hell about herself, esteem and all arresters, I guess just put them in the bag and take him with you. And of course she need to be careful all the time, not to disrespect the mind. You’re not showing disrespect for the mind because the person needs to know your mind is doing its job. It’s just doing it in a bit of a weird way right now.
Carrie: It’s trying to protect you.
Ingrid: Because we always need to be careful not to undermine job of the mind and get the person to feel that their mind is somehow defective. That’s actually a very important part of actors. There is nothing wrong with you. You’ve got problems because there’s everything right with you.
Carrie: Oh, wow. This is a very interesting reframe for people.
Ingrid: Isn’t it wonderful you want think it’s job.
Carrie: It takes off that shame layer really?
Ingrid: Yes. And the fear of, you know, am I losing it? I always joke that the least funny joke ever is of all the things I’ve lost in life. I miss my mind the most.
Carrie: I’m curious for you, how does ACT therapy align with faith in God and biblical teaching?
Ingrid: Actually, that’s a very close fit because the stitching with the thing I’m trying to avoid and actually sitting with it and willingly accepting it is much easier
as a Christian. Because I have got the added strength of grace without being a Christian. I willingly accept that struggling against this thing is just gonna make me worse, but because that’s just pure straight logic and I learn it through experience and that’s how it works. But now that I’m a Christian, I can know that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. And so whatever I’m experiencing is somehow gonna work towards my good. And if I am in it and with it and thinking about God’s promises, you know what He has promised me here, it increases my faith.
Carrie: Everything being purposeful. I think one thing as Christians that we fight against sometimes. Is, you know, okay, God, why am I going through this? Can you just please take it away so that I don’t have to deal with it anymore because it’s uncomfortable and it’s painful. And I know that you have the power to do that. And instead of like you were saying, really leaning in and saying, okay, there must be some purpose that this experience is here.
Carrie: And God has allowed it in my life for some reason or another, you know, maybe it’s to help somebody down the road. That’s gonna be going through a similar experience, maybe it’s to grow my character internally, and I could see how this therapy could help you lean in into that.
Ingrid: Sometimes it’s to help me to learn something that I really need to learn. You’re like recently after I’ll tell you at the end, but we’ve been living on a boat and I tend to live in my head, but you can’t when you’re on a boat and I’ve seen some many beautiful things and outside that I wouldn’t have been part of. Cause that would have been busy in my hand.
Carrie: I know for me right now, one thing I’m dealing with is some chronic back pain related to my pregnancy. And it’s taught me so much about a lot of different things, but really relying on God, understanding my own limitations, having compassion for my clients that have chronic pain. I think that, you know, it’s not over yet. So I think there’s probably still more things that I will learn or somehow will grow from this experience of going through it.
But it is hard when you’re in the middle of it to accept. You know, it’s like, I can take my back pain with me to exercise and recognize that I don’t feel like exercising because I’m in pain. But when I start to do the stretching and the yoga and the things that I know that are gonna be good for me and the core exercises, I do start to feel better. And I know that what I’m doing is not exacerbating anything. It’s trying to help the other muscles support my back and support. So I can definitely see that in kind of what we’re talking about today.
Ingrid: And would you say that it would then help you with empathy was chronic pain patients who sometimes seem to be quite childish or it helps to have empathy with that to say, I know it feels really, really, really hard.
Carrie: Sure. Have you seen in terms of biblical characters that you’ve studied ways that may be they’ve accepted a situation and then acted based on it.
Ingrid: One of the thing that means a lot to me is the three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown in the fire. And they said to,” I think it was never that our God can save us from the fire, but even if he doesn’t, we still weren’t worshiping here”. That’s been a lot to me. There’ve been a few occasions in my life where, you know, you’re up against it and it’s like, do this or else. And even if God doesn’t save me. So that’s one and the other one, really his job, even though he slays me. When I trust him.
Ingrid: I struggle to get through this without getting emotional. But there’ve been me very, very hard times in my life where that’s resonated in my head that God, I don’t know what you’re doing.
And it feels like this is killing me, but I trust you.
Carrie: Tell us a little bit about your book that you wrote “ACT With Faith”.
Ingrid: Well, I wrote it initially. I, the audience who I chose were non-Christian therapists because I have made an believe that there are many out there who are highly competent and would be very willing to work with Christians. With their own belief because, you know, ACT is, has a pragmatic Trist criteria in which states that whatever the client believes is the truth in that room at that time. So even with a non-Christian therapist, Christian clients’ truths are what’s important.
So I thought I’d put it out there what a Christian truths in terms of the six ACT processes or the six major processes, which are lined in ACT. So the therapists could relate process by process to various aspects of what Christians believe. And I also wanted to give them eight for their Christian clients. So I put in a whole lot of appendices, which a client hand out, but if there’s something they don’t understand, like grace, they can hand it to their clients and their clients can see how it relates to the whole ACT process.
Carrie: I like that a lot is that who has been resonating with the book or have there been other people as well that have picked up on it, maybe clients that have read it and resonated with it or Christian therapist.
Ingrid: I found it actually at a wide range of people because many clients have resonated with it. And people who are not Christians. People have come to me to say, “how can we adapt this for Muslim clients” or I am try to help and explain to them that the way I work is to say, if I have a Muslim or Hindu or another religion, we have a religious book and this is what it says. And I’m sure there’s some things similar to this in your book. Can we see if we can find it? And there is something like if we’re dealing with marriage or relationship issue or whatever. People who are Christians who are not Christians
Carrie: That’s awesome.
Ingrid: In a very wide range of people.
Carrie: Towards the end of every podcast. I like to ask our guests to share a story of hope, which is a time in which you received hope from God or another person.
Ingrid: Kind of alluded to this, but in 2018 we felt my husband and I both felt that God was indicating to us to leave South Africa and come back to the UK. The unfortunate part about it was that we would have nothing because of, you know, exchange rates, etcetera. Various factors meant that we would arrive here was nothing. We have about, so we’ve lived on the boat. It wasn’t supposed to be for three or four years, but that has been that and it’s been very hard. The summers are beautiful, of course. And that’s what I was alluding to earlier with, you know, at being outside, seeing the nature it’s beautiful. But winters are tough and we applied for housing and it’s taken a very long time and we were approved in June and it’s been hanging on hanging on. And today we got the large vacation, the house we love is ready, we can move it next week.
Carrie: That’s awesome. That’s really beautiful. It’s hard to wait on those types of things, but praise God.
Ingrid: It’s very hard, it’s very hard to wait and that’s been what I was, you know, about Joe and I’ve been very ill on the boat at times, just saying to the Lord “Okay, I know you have this in hand, I know you have it in half”. It take you a bit longer than order a life.
Ingrid: I know we both very excited about that.
Carrie: It’s really being able to trust that he’s gonna take care of things.
Ingrid: And of course deal. But you know, we’ve had to do quite a lot of, you know, applying and sorting and working and, and so we do our bit.
Ingrid: But God is there and he’s in control. And he knows exactly and we couldn’t have chosen if I’d had to draw a little cottage that I would love to be in. I couldn’t have done anything more beautiful than what we’ve actually got.
Carrie: I’m so excited for you being able to move into your place. And thank you so much for having this conversation about ACT with us. We’ll put in links to your website and the book in case people want to find out more.
Ingrid: Okay, great. Thanks Carrie. Nice talking to you really knows. And I hope the rest of your pregnancy goes well or that you don’t have very bad backache.
Carrie: Thank you. Thank you.
Have you had any personal experience with acceptance and commitment therapy?
I think it would be interesting to have someone on the show from the client perspective. I wanted to share with you something that I’m very excited about, and that is that we now have. A hope for anxiety and OCD, Facebook group. I know not all of you are on Facebook. It has its good things and bad things about it
for sure. However, we wanted to create an opportunity for listeners to really interact with each other. And interact with myself. I’m hoping this will really help expand our audience reach because there are many people who still don’t know about the show. While at the same time, getting to know those of you who are listening on a regular basis. We’re going to put a link for you to that group in the show notes and hope that you will join us over there. Thank you so much for listening.
Well Hope for Anxiety and OCD is a production of By The Well Counseling. Our show is hosted by me, Carrie Bock, licensed professional counselor in Tennessee. Opinions given by our guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of myself or By the Well Counseling, Our original music is by Brandon Mangrum. Until next time be comforted by God’s great love for you.