Lecture 1: Overview of AC Sex Coaching

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Hi, I'm Dr. Rich Blanca and welcome back for session two, lecture two. In this session and this lecture, what I'm going to do is expand on what we talked about in the first lecture in session two, which was just kind of a broad overview of acceptance and commitment coaching. In this session, I really want to show you specific techniques that applies some of those general things we talked about in the first lecture, and really go into more detail about thoughts and personal scripts and all that stuff and how it relates to psychological inflexibility. And I apologize, there really weren't any activities and the first lecture in this lecture, there will be a couple of activities, I'm going to ask you, I think there's three to do. So make sure you've printed off those activities. And when I say let's stop, get your copy of the activity and do it along with me.

You do that because again, I want you to learn from doing from actually experiencing the activity. yourself. So let me reduce myself and let's jump into it. Okay, let's get this out of the way. All right. So both AC coke coaching and acceptance and Commitment Therapy are grounded in two things relational frame theory, which is a type of learning theory and functional contextualism, which is a philosophy.

Now RFT studies the relationship between thoughts, personal scripts mental images and emotions and behavior, how they will connect. And then functional contextualism describes how the function of thoughts personal scripts, all of those internal factors are determined by the context in which they occur. So, in other words, you could be engaging in the same behavior or an opportunity could come up that totally is exactly the same as one from the past. But the context in the present moment, if it's Different, it'll change all of the internal things that go along with it, it'll change the thoughts, it'll change the feelings. Let me give you a sexual example. So let's just say that you know, you've been with your partner, you know, wife, partner, whatever for for many years and you know, you've had intercourse, sexual intercourse, you know, thousands of times.

And so now and you know, you know each other's body, you know, each other's likes and dislikes. And you've been invited to go up and spend the weekend at your mother's house because it's a big family function. And you're sleeping in the guest room, which was your old room, which is right next to your mother father's bedroom, and your wife wants to make love. And it's the same thing, right? same behavior, same person, whatever, but the context is very, very different. You know, in the bed, you re were raised and you grew up in as a kid went to high school next door to your mother's room.

So I mean, The thoughts and the feelings that that triggers are totally, totally different, even though the behavior is the same. So that's what I mean by you know, thoughts are and scripts and images and emotions are determined by context. Now RFT research found that your mind is like a computer, and it's running multiple programs simultaneously 24 seven, for example, at any given moment, that computer I'm recording this on is recording this. It's got a webcam program, an audio program. I'm also running my windows browser, which is a Google browser, which is open to three different windows. I've got my email program on and my virus checker and you know, security programs running on in the background as well as Microsoft explorer seven, which I like, and I'm sorry, Microsoft pro seven.

So all of those things Things those programs are running simultaneously very flawlessly. And I leave my computer on all the time. So they run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Same thing goes on in your mind. But your minds programs are your thoughts, your personal scripts, your mental images and your emotions. And like computer programs, sometimes the minds programs get corrupted, causing them to freeze, and the whole mind gets stuck and unable to operate.

I call that being mesmerized into inactivity, right? So if a painful emotion really is just like flooding your consciousness it can actually cause all the other programs to not work very well your thinking, your self talk, etc. And you freeze you get stuck. Now what do you do in your computer gets stuck, you unplug it, you reboot it and you get unstuck. And there are ways to unstick your mind when your mind gets stuck. We'll talk about how you help your clients do that.

Now when your mind is processing thoughts, personal scripts, etc. It takes information from the past, brings it into the present moment and jumps ahead into the future. And this minds ability to synthesize information like this, I call it going past, present and future. So for example, you're in a sexual situation let's let's use the you're visiting your mom and you're in bed and your wife wants to make love. So, your mind automatically jumps back into a past similar situation where maybe you were in an awkward place having sex with either your wife or as our different partner, and it felt very uncomfortable because it was in your own bed, your own house, and it resulted in maybe being unable to perform or unable to have an orgasm or unable to get an erection or whatever. And it was fraught with troubling thoughts and painful emotions from the past.

So the present situation of being in this bed next Your mom's automatically brings that past scenario into the forefront. And then those two bits of information past and present, extrapolate and your mind jumps into the future and says, Oh god, this is gonna be terrible. What if I can't get it up and satisfy her? What if I don't come? What if my mother comes in and hears us? What if my wife's making too much noise and moaning too loudly.

So the minds ability to go past present and future is truly an amazing thing. And if you allow it to, it will extrapolate an infinite number of possible future outcomes. So if you just stopped and ruminating about what could possibly go wrong here, I mean, it could lead to everything from you know, not being able to get erect to not being able to orgasm to your mom coming in and fainting and have a heart attack right on the spot. So of mine. It's a very interesting thing when it goes past, present and future. You just grab some water for a second.

Now this ability to go past, present and future when dealing with sexual stuff is tremendously helpful when planning around things it can control, like sexual behavior and sexual environment. Right? So for example, if you wanted to have a really satisfying sexual experience with your partner, and you know that from the past if you do this and you did this and you did this and you did this, that he or she would be very pleased and very happy and would reciprocate you know, with incredible passion, right? So, you saw I will, I'm going to plan the sexual encounter based on the sexual behavior out there based on things from the past that I know worked. And I'm also going to create the perfect environment because I know that he or she likes, you know, scented candles and you know, honey does powder and I can apply on his or her button, rub it off or whatever.

So you can take all of these cool things about the physical environment from the past, bring it into the present, and, you know, plan for these wonderful future outcomes. So this past, present and future stuff is really, really helpful with things of a sexual nature that the mind can control. However, the same ability can result in getting stuck when dealing with things that can't control as I mentioned, you know, when your thoughts personal scripts, mental images and emotions, just go nuts, going over and over and over again, extrapolating all these, you know, possible negative painful outcomes, or even possible, you know, outcomes that, you know, might be pleasurable, but you're trying to kind of think the more through in your head, you're trying to, you know, figure out how you're going to think how you're going to feel what you're going to say and you just can't control that inner dialogue.

So when you try and try and try to control your, especially your thoughts In your feelings, you're just going to get stuck. So manipulating things that it can control, the mind is a wonderful thing, trying to manipulate things that cannot control just get stuck. It's just the nature of the way the mind works. So let's look at these individual components that I've been talking about, you know, thoughts, person, script, etc in a little more detail. Now, as I mentioned, thoughts are individual cognitions. Now, the relevance of this for AC coaching is that clients often get hooked into believing illogical thoughts related to their sexuality and their sexual relationship and getting hooked on a logical thinking is, it leads to getting stuck.

Now in particular, clients get hooked on what are called thinking traps. And if you want to read a really fascinating book, Russ Harris wrote my first book book I read was The happiness trap. And he introduces the notion of thinking traps. And then I carried it on in my first act book that I wrote called stress less, live more in 2010 and identify 10 common thinking traps that contribute to psychological inflexibility. And getting hooked on these illogical thinking traps, of causes clients to get stuck and do nothing, you know, to ruminate rather than to act. So I'm going to just give you two examples and you'll see how they work.

First one is the pervasiveness trap. And the pervasiveness of the whole concept of pervasiveness comes from Excel men. And this trap is based on the belief that the extent of influence of one troubling condition or situation spills over into every aspect of life, when in fact, troubling conditions or situations usually do not affect every aspect of a person's life. Especially their sex life. So clients fall into this trap when they believe that something that's going on now that's a troubling condition is going to just generalize into everything about my sex life. So for example, you, you know, your client wants to have sex or you want to have sex right now, in this moment, you know, with your partner and your partner is not in the mood doesn't want to do it is something else going on.

And your mind automatically says, Oh, my God, my whole relationship sucks, or my sex life is terrible, when in fact, this one event is context specific. Previous to this, you know, when you wanted to have sex your partner generally, you know, went along with you or you know, the two of you agreed to a mutually agreeable time in place. So just because things are going bad in this one particular situation, doesn't mean your entire sex life, your entire relationship is not good. So that's the pervasiveness track. When you Something that's very context specific, that's a problem. You generalize it to the entire relationship.

The other one is my favorites, I can figure it all out in my head trap. And this trap is based on the belief that all aspects, including the outcomes of any situation can be anticipated for and controlled without having to directly experience the situation. And I kind of gave an example of that about someone contemplating entering into a committed relationship with someone. And that, you know, they refuse to do it until they can figure everything out in their head about exactly how everything is going to work out. And it just doesn't work that way. And in fact, by directly directly experiencing something, especially something new or different, it often turns out completely different from what you thought it would be like.

So clients fall into this trap when they make sexual decisions by trying to figure out everything in their heads, you know, including outcomes without directly experiencing it. And this is very, very common with new sexual experiences, whether it's a specific behavior, hey, let's try this new posture that I saw, you know, online or this new sexual act, or let's try something different. And let's have sex in a different place or at a different time or with a windows open or whatever. So by you know, saying, Well, no, I'm not going to work out because I'm sitting here thinking about it. And I know that's going to turn out to be a negative thing without trying it and seeing what the experience might actually be like is when you're falling into the trap. So you know, you would help clients do this by showing them that they can't figure everything out in their head.

And you may want to just ask them in a non sexual way to give you an example and I can give you several options. examples of things that I thought would work out one way including being asked to do my first act coaching training ever and me thinking was going to be a dismal failure and it turned out to be a great success. So you know, try and either give a personal example from your own life doesn't have to be sexual harass clients to give a non sexual example. So here's the first activity. And again, I want you to actually stop the video and go get this activity, get the paper copy and we're going to do it. I'm just going to sit here and take a quick sip of water while you grab that and get ready.

Alright, so I'm real big on journaling, and noodle all my clients. I have them keep journals. My stress clients keep stress journals. My sex clients keep six journals. But this journal is called my thinking trap journal. And here's how you do it.

Starting today, I want you to keep a journal of your personal thinking traps that get you stuck. Now you're going to get a copy of my book that goes along with this course. And I list all the thinking traps in the book. So you could pull all the individual thinking traps out, and I may wind up even sending them to you as an attachment if they're too hard to find. And so you'd explain the thinking traps to the client and say sign today I want you to keep a journal of these thinking traps. And you can keep the journal whatever format you desire, whether it's electronic line, paper, bound, journal, whatever, whatever you're comfortable with.

And then you can fill in the categories whenever it's convenient for you either when they occur, you know, as they occur, you'll stop and you'll fill in the journal at the end of the day, when the beginning of the next day, but I would recommend that you do not leave more than a day pass when recording a thinking trap. Otherwise, the details are going to blur so here How would work it would be for each day, there could be multiple entries, right. So on one page in your journal, you might have the same date listed three or four times if you fell into multiple traps, or you might fall into one trap a day, or you might fall into no traps on a day. So if the date there is no trap, you can either put date no trap, or just leave a blank. So be the date the situation which is what is triggered You know, you're getting stuck in this situation.

The self talk will be what your mind told you about the situation. And this is where you have to emphasize, you know, to the clients and for yourself to use the exact dialogue, the exact self talk. What exactly did your mind say about this situation that caused you to get stuck. And then what was the actual thinking trap that the self talks from what you know today To the trap, in other words, so here's an example. And excuse my language if it's a little crude, but I'm trying to use an exact example that a client gave me. And again, I think it's important to get comfortable with with sexual dialogue and different words that clients use.

And you may want to, you know, see and feel your client out in terms of language and tailor your language to your client. So in July six, that was the date the situation was I wanted this lie back and let my wife give me a blowjob. And she refused. So what was a self talk that went on in my mind? I never get my needs met is what I said. And then what was the thinking chat?

When I look back at the thinking traps? What was that thinking trap? Well, that was permanence. So how did I identify that it was the permanence trap? by the word never, never as a key word never is forever, right? Never always completely.

Totally. Absolutely, you know, those are red flag permanence words, right? So I never get my needs met. Now, you might ask the climb mountain, you know, how do you know that that was a thinking trap. And it was because I do get my needs met sometimes. And I it's just generalizing and falling into that trap.

Okay. And in fact, in the past, my wife has done this for me. So that would be the thinking trap journal. And again, keep this yourself, keep it for a month, see what kind of thinking traps you fall into regarding sexuality in your own relationship. And then you'll get comfortable knowing how to do it, how to use it. And as I said, you know, go through my book, my sex act book, and you'll, you'll see the thinking traps are in there.

So if you get a client to keep this journal I say a couple of months. I always make people keep journals for at least two months, but you may disagree and say a month is enough, but generally no more than a couple of weeks. MCs clients more aware of the kinds of thinking traps that they're most likely to fall into. And not only the kinds of tracks, but the context, right? The situations that trigger them. Now in time what clients can learn how to do is become more proactive about this and say, Okay, I know I'm going to be in this kind of situation.

So I might be likely to fall into this thinking trap. And if I find myself falling into this thinking trap, I'm going to stop myself and say, okay, mind, you're falling into this thinking trap. This isn't necessarily the way things are going to work out. Just try not to go there or shift your attention off of the thinking trap, okay? For example, in that situation with a client lying there and not getting what he wanted, rather than just, you know, ruminate and pout about that. could have said, Okay, well, you know, let me give you a foot rub or, you know, why don't you rub my back?

Or why don't you manually stimulate me, let me just lie back and you know, do something other than, you know, oral sex So, but clients in keeping this journal can start to say, Oh, you know, I tend to fall into this permanence trap a lot, where I tend to really be cautious of my above average intellect, I tend to fall into the, you know, I can figure it out in my head trap, and then they can use it preventively. Now, as I mentioned, individual cognitions combined to form personal scripts. Now, the interesting thing about a personal script, is that inner dialogue is literally the self talk that represents how the scene has played out in the past, remember the minds going past present future? So it's like, Okay, this happened to me in the past on I did this, and here it is right now. And this is what's gonna happen in the future.

So it's a Little inner dialogue that is, you know, this negative, unhelpful self talk that goes past, present and future. And it's just like the dialogue from a scene in a movie, except that the movie is the clients own personal sexual movie. And as I said, each script is connected to a context. Now in an acceptance commitment coaching language, that's called the relational frame, the original frame of reference that the client was exposed to this situation, that was the original relational frame. And that really sets the stage for the dialogue. All right, so if something negative sexually happened to someone, and they're in a similar situation now, then they'll automatically jump back to that original relational frame, that religion, original context, and they'll bring it into the present moment.

So it was a negative sexual experience, like let's say, you know, guy was unable to perform with unable to get an erection under a certain kind of sexual situation. And he's now in that situation again, you know, the mind law automatically jump back and say, Oh my god, this is what happened back then, you know, I hope it doesn't happen now. You start to worry about it and what happens when you worry about it? You know, the worst thing you can do about your sexual arousal and performance, is to ruminate about when it didn't work in the past, right? You all know that from personal experience. So each script is connected to a specific context.

Now, there's a concept in AC coaching that says, hey, listen, scripts become outdated. You know, something that happened to you when you were 17 and was your first sexual encounter? You know, and since then you've proven that it isn't relevant anymore. That script now becomes outdated and it outdated scripts are seldom helpful. So if you know in your initial experience as a sexual person, you know, you weren't too good and it wasn't too pleasurable and your, your original partner wasn't too happy. And now 20 years later, you're much more competent.

You've had a very, you know, good track record of having positive sexual experiences in your present relationship for the most part is satisfying. To get stuck on an old, outdated script is not helpful. And you'll see that in AC coaching. It's okay to say out my mind set me back to this place some time. This is no longer true. I don't have to think about after ruminating or have to figure back why I feel this way.

I can just say you know, it's not helpful. I'm going to shift my mind off of it and doing something that is helpful, like, you know, rub my partner's feet or whatever. Now, mental images are the pictures that I said that accompany the thoughts and the personal scripts and the emotions and they represent the moving pictures in this you know, movie of this your clients sexual life. And the same thing these mental images can become outdated. And when they become outdated, they're not helpful. This is real true with things like body image, you know where, you know, we have this image of ourselves as whatever, you know, too fat too skinny, too big, too small, too lumpy, too bony, too knobby, whatever, and we carry it around in our mind.

And it may not be true anymore. You know, we may have gotten feedback from other people who say, Oh, no, you're not too big, not too small. You're not too fat. You're not too skinny. And we just don't believe it. So we carry this outdated mental image around with us.

And once again, it's okay to say up there because my mind going back, telling me things that no longer hold True. And then the last piece of this you know, the inner factors are emotions and emotions are really cues to action. In other words, they were designed to get us to act. So when we feel angry, well what happens you know, the omens the stress response kicks in where we build up energy and muscle tension and we want to fight right? Or we are threatened we want to run right fight or flight we want to run or we are feeling sexy and we want to copulate. Okay, so emotions really are triggers are cues to action and emotions to are linked to personal scripts, mental images, and past relational frames.

So, if something in the past triggered positive emotions, happy emotions, helpful emotions, our mind goes back and anticipates that will happen again. If a sexual experience triggers negative, painful emotions, and our current situation, our minds going to jump back and say, Oh my god, I don't want to feel like that again. Therefore, I'm going to do this. This is particularly true with failing to commit in relationships. When people are hurt, they go back and their mind says, I don't want to be hurt again like that. So I'm now in a situation where I can further this relationship and make a commitment and I won't, because my mind is anticipating more of the similar painful emotions.

And that's normal for that to happen. And I said SRF T is based on functional contextualism. And you know that thoughts in scripts etc, are determined by the context. Now, the important thing to remember about this is that changes in the context can change thoughts, scripts, images and feelings and behavior. And it can do it in both a negative way. And it can do it in both a positive way.

So when clients get stuck on something different a change in venue, a change in context, you could say, you know, you're looking at the dark side, there is also the possibility that it might be better, that you know, different might be better different might be new, different might open up a door that you didn't even know existed. So AC coaching really values the context as much as the content of client thinking. So where did this all happen? What was the context? The other thing about RFT is that it shows that not all thoughts are created equal. They're not all equally helpful.

They're not all equally important, especially in relation to taking values congruent action. Matter of fact, if you stop and think about how you Your mind ruminates all day, I would venture to say about at least 50% of what my mind tells me in a given day is either benign, not helpful or downright silly. I mean, just know how much time is spent is fantasizing or thinking negative, unhelpful thoughts right. Now helpful thoughts, personal scripts, images and feelings are those that are consistent with clients values and goals and that facilitate values congruent behavior taking action. So helpful thoughts, etc. are, you know, lead to taking values congruent action, right.

Unhelpful ones are ones that are not consistent with values and goals and interfere with values congruent behavior. And again, this helpful versus in helpful or unhelpful, rather is much better than labeling thoughts. feelings in script as good or bad, right or wrong when clients do that, and you kind of foster that you're getting into these ethical moral issues, that if we're looking to help them take action, and we're getting into absolutes, right, good, bad, right, wrong, helpful or unhelpful and much more values neutral, and are just, you know, what do you think? Is this kind of thinking and feeling moving you closer to meeting your sexual relationship goals? Or is it standing in the way and contributing to creating barriers and being stuck? So clients can decide that on their own with a little help from you?

So here's an activity that kind of helps clients look at that mental processing and you know, helpful and unhelpful thinking and it's cold, your mind is a computer. I'm going to take another sip of water while you go grab this activity and we're going to do it together. Okay, so it's designed to kind of show how the mind works as a computer. And what you would do is you explain to clients now the next time you feel stuck because of troubling thoughts, personal scripts, etc, that are creating sexual barriers to moving forward, I want you to do the following. I want you to tell yourself, like my phone and my computer, a lot of the information from the programs and apps that I use are not helpful or very accurate, and actually can add to me getting stuck. It's okay for me to ignore these unhelpful thoughts, feelings, mental images, personal scripts, when they stand in the way of me meeting my sexual goals.

And then lastly, tell yourself it's not very productive to try and figure out why my mind is creating these barriers that keep me stuck. It is much more efficient to spend that time figuring out how to break down these barriers and move forward towards my values based goals. So let's just go back and look at this again. So what we're doing is we're having clients, we're helping them identify beings stuck, right, identify that those programs going on that are being run right now are not helpful or accurate. We're then saying, okay, it's alright for me to ignore these unhelpful thoughts, images and scripts, because they're not being helpful. It's okay for me to say, these are not being helpful.

I don't have to pay, you know, extreme attention to them. And then it's really better for me instead of trying to figure out why, to kind of take some action and to do something to break down these barriers and move forward. Now in time, clients will learn to stop wasting so much time trying to figure out the whys in the world. wherefores of their minds activity and really focus on you know, what their minds are telling them and whether it's helpful or not. And, you know, also get them to learn to laugh at some of the crazy silly stuff that their mind tells them, rather than to take what their mind tells them so seriously. And this is really very difficult to do with very intelligent people.

You know, I was a college professor in college professors are the most self absorbed people in the planet. And to tell a college professor, listen, sometimes what your mind tells you isn't all that helpful. It's downright silly, is you know, whoa, what do you mean? My mind is silly. It's what I've my whole life is based around. So you have to really sell people on the idea that, you know, the mind does go back and dredge up a lot of unhelpful stuff that you know, is not helpful in this context in this place in time, and it's okay to say that's not very helpful.

I'm going to shift my focus off of it. Alright, so that's really it for this lecture. And again, what I'm trying to do here is to really look at those internal programs and give you some tools to help clients understand, you know, how the mind works when processing information in general, and when processing sexual information in particular. And, you know, really emphasizing that a lot of that processing is based on things from the past that are not very helpful now in the present or in the future. But because your mind goes past, present future is always doing that. So you have to be aware that that's how your mind works.

You have to be aware that not all this stuff is helpful. And you have to be aware that you can always figure it out in your head, that you've got to commit to this uncertainty and being willing to take action, despite being unable to control all of the variables and just see how things play out. Sometimes They may play out, you know, much better than you could ever anticipate. Sometimes they may not play out so well. But that's okay. That's life, right.

And that's what psychological flexibility is all about. So I hope you enjoyed the session, again, a lot of stuff. And, you know, go back, listen to it, watch it until you get comfortable with it. If you have any questions at all, about, you know, AC coaching and the underlying, you know, theory and philosophy, shoot me an email, and I'd be glad to talk to you a little bit more about it. So thanks again, I think from here in session three, we start to move into the sexuality stuff. Good stuff.

See you in the next session. All right, let me shrink myself here. Let's get out of the sharing. And let's kind of end the meeting. So I'll see you in the next session.

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