Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Caregivers

A member of the CanFASD Family Advisory Committee recently had the opportunity to participate in a research program that gave caregivers of individuals with FASD the skills to better manage the challenges and stresses of their daily lives using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

The goal of the research project was to measure the impact ACT training has on caregiver stress and well-being, and to understand if this approach is feasible and beneficial to families of individuals with FASD. The research is being conducted in Toronto by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the University Health Network (UHN).

Mary Ann Bunkowsky, a member of the CanFASD Family Advisory Committee, had the opportunity to participate in this research project. She attended one evening session and one full day workshop on ACT Training.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy helps individuals to struggle less with difficult things in their lives and mindfully connect with things that are most important in a way that is loving and respectful. ACT training gives individuals the skills to develop new and mindful relationships with their thoughts and feelings, rather than seeking to change or eliminate unwanted thoughts.

Canadian researchers have found that ACT training has alleviated levels of depression and stress in caregivers of individuals with neurodevelopmental conditions. However, this is the first research study to explicitly look at the impacts of this training on caregivers of individuals with FASD.

Mary Ann found this program extremely valuable and is looking forward to implementing the skills she learned during these trainings in her own family.

“The more we care for ourselves the better we can be for our families… My experience with ACT has enriched my life and given me some focus.”

The therapy training teaches individuals mindfulness, so staying in the moment. It also places a strong focus on reframing the mind to recognize that nothing is inherently happy. (Read more…)