Portland skyline from the water


Friday, June 8 from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM EDT


Woodfords Club
179 Woodford Street
Portland, ME 04103


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Joel Guarna 

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The ACT Matrix
From Therapeutic Tool to Map for Recovery

This workshop will cover a variety of ways to use the Matrix in clinical settings. We will start with the traditional use of the Matrix as a therapeutic tool for engaging clients to quickly and effectively move the six ACT core processes. As with ACT more generally, the goal of this is to help clients get unstuck from unworkable patterns and to promote psychological flexibility, to help them move toward a richer and fuller life now. Through a combination of didactic presentation and practice, we will explore how to use the Matrix with both individual clients and groups.   

Over the past 3-4 years, we have developed a highly effective method for teaching and practicing the Matrix: the Matrix Card Sort exercise. This has been used with over a hundred therapist participants and even more patients in clinical settings. It has received excellent reviews. This hands-on, interactive exercise will jump-start your proficiency with the Matrix.

From here, we will venture into less traditional uses of the Matrix. In 2016, at the annual World Conference for the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS) in Seattle, I presented a workshop on innovative uses of ACT for treating chronic pain. I (half-jokingly) shared some "off-label" (unapproved, nontraditional) uses of the Matrix. This included a method of using the Matrix for "quick-and-dirty" conceptualizations to help clinicians respond quickly to clinical challenges. This has proven particularly useful in fast-paced settings like integrated primary care and speciality medical settings.

Perhaps my favorite innovation with the Matrix is as a kind of "map" for recovery. This idea was born in discussions in our local ACT Peer Consultation Group several years ago and has since incorporated ideas from multiple other sources. It has become a personal favorite of mine that has enriched my personal and professional life. I shared a version of this model last year (2017) when I was invited to speak at a regional conference held by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter (MAC) of ACBS in Arlington, VA. The title was “Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Awakening Resilience in Patients with Chronic Pain, Illness, and Disability.” The presentation attempted to address this central question: "How are we to help patients whose chronic and complex conditions have eroded their resilience, sense of agency, and hope for better lives?" The message was this (from the abstract): "Noting commonalities in how we suffer, how we thrive, and how we bridge from one to the other in pursuit of recovery, we will consider an alternative use of the Matrix as a 'map for recovery' to promote old-fashioned hope." In the afternoon of this workshop, we will explore this model and its applications.

This workshop will be highly experiential. We will use a variety of exercises to give you a true taste of using ACT for yourself and with others. You will encounter the six ACT core processes directly with challenges you experience as a person and a helper (therapist, healthcare worker, etc.). You will also role-play the types of challenges your clients or patients bring to you for help. You will experience ACT "from the inside" and get your hands dirty using ACT. It should be fun; I hope to see you there!

Training Level
This workshop will be an intermediate level training. This workshop is ideal for anyone who has participated in at least one full-day ACT introductory workshop or has done significant self-study (reading, watching videos) and wants to learn how to use the Matrix in a clinical setting.

About ACT
Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a contemporary form of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that has shown much promise in helping clients with a wide range of emotional and behavioral difficulties. ACT introduces a comprehensive model of change including a creative set of metaphors and experiential exercises to help clients (a) move away from unworkable change strategies, (b) make healthy contact with thoughts, feelings, and other private reactions they have feared and avoided, (c) re-connect with their deepest values to set a direction for change and to motivate change, and (d) experience their struggles differently and in a manner that permits them to move forward with their lives now. 

Printable flyer for this workshop.
Learning Objectives and Evaluations 

Supplemental Materials:

Dr. Joel Guarna is a licensed psychologist in the state of Maine. He earned his PhD from Bowling Green State University in 2000 and trained at the Boston Consortium in Clinical Psychology as a predoctoral intern and postdoctoral fellow. Joel later served as a staff psychologist in the Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in Boston. His areas of interest and specialization include specific treatment modalities, especially ACT, mind/body health and mindfulness-based therapies, addictions treatment, and health psychology, including treatment of pain and other chronic health conditions.  Joel currently works at Maine Medical Partners Endocrinology and Diabetes Center in Scarborough and the Mercy Pain Center in Portland. He also manages a small private practice and training/consulting business in Portland and coordinates activities for the Southern Maine ACT (SMACT) community (website). He was introduced to ACT in 1999 and has attended many ACT workshops and conferences and has given many talks and trainings on ACT in recent years.  Joel Guarna's CV

Continuing Education
Psychologists in Maine: An application is being submitted to the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists for 6 CEs for psychologists practicing in the the state of Maine. A
lcohol and drug counselors in Maine: White Pine Institute is submitting an application for continuing education (6 CEs) approval for alcohol and drug counselors through the appropriate board. Counselors and social workers in Maine: In Maine, the boards overseeing LCPCs and social workers no longer require preapproval for CE trainings. Appropriate documentation will be provided so counselors and social workers can submit for continuing education to their respective boards. Out of state therapists and other health care providers: Documentation of your attendance will be provided for you to use should you decide to seek CE approval from your respective board.

  • This event is open to health care and behavioral health care professionals only. 
  • If you require any special accommodations, please be sure to contact us well before the date of the event. 
  • Please review our Cancelation/Refund Policy at bottom.

Register Now!

Regular Registration is $160

Due to the highly interactive nature of this workshop, registrations will be limited. Registration will close when the maximum number of registrants is reached.

Registration is online only. There will be no same-day registration at the site of the workshop.

Cancelation/Refund Policies
  • Cancellations made prior to June 1, 2018 will receive full refund minus $15 processing fee. 
  • Cancelations made between June 1 and June 8, 2018 will not receive refunds.