The word ‘notice’ is one of the most widely used terms to help our clients recognise how to connect with the present moment.
An easy way to do this is ask a question or two, such as:
What can you see right here, right now?
What can you feel in your body?
What can you smell or taste?
What can you hear right now?
By referring to the client’s sensory connections with where they are, we help them notice what is surrounding them – and what possibilities there are for embracing the moment. This leads us to the Notice X exercise.
Notice X exercise:
All we need to do to begin this exercise is to ask our clients to nominate an object. Then, ask them look at the object using as many of the five senses – sight, smell, smell, taste, touch and hearing – as possible.
Some instruction may be needed at first, to help clients notice sensory connections that may not be immediately obvious – the feeling of a watchband on a wrist, or the smell of an article of clothing. They may need guidance to even realise the variety of objects that are in the ‘present moment’ – each item of clothing, each piece of furniture, each smell or texture or taste. Guide them to notice more and more detail in the present moment.
This exercise is useful when clients are quite emotional. By guiding them to the present moment you may notice a reduction in the level of intensity of emotion they are experiencing. Clients can come into the present moment at any time, then move to defusion or other parts of the ACT process. The present moment can be used as a grounding exercise and as such can be an important base skill from which to work through the other core ACT processes. You can do grounding or present moment exercises at anytime during your sessions.
The present moment underpins all parts of the ACT Hexaflex. It allows for strong therapeutic work to occur outside the session, as clients who develop the skill of being present can hold a greater awareness of their surroundings and in doing so are less susceptible to fusing to thoughts, impulsive actions, avoidance behaviours and the like.
One method of introducing the present moment is to do so at the start of each session or whenever you notice your client becoming distressed and you feel it would be useful to do some grounding work.
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