On Psychological Inflexibility and Getting Stuck

Posted by in Coaching Training | 5 comments

An ACT-based approach to coaching uses the term, “getting stuck” to refer to psychological inflexibility, the root cause of failing to take values-congruent action. I love the notion of getting stuck versus having a mental disorder, because it’s both very forgiving and a great fit for coaching. Everybody gets stuck at times: you, me, our clients. When we get stuck in a rut, we can’t move forward. It’s like having a beautiful car that gets stuck on a patch of ice; it just spins its wheels and gets nowhere. When we get stuck, we also spend a lot of time spinning our wheels and going nowhere. Helping clients get unstuck by using ACT principles and practices frees them up and gets them moving forward again. ACT-based coaching proposes that there are six key factors (called core processes by ACT) that contribute to psychological inflexibility and getting stuck:

Attachment to the conceptualized self (self-as-content view)

Cognitive fusion (over-identification with one aspect of conceptualized self)

Dominance of outmoded scripts and learning (being hooked into believing unhelpful versions of one’s conceptualized self)

Experiential avoidance (avoiding values-congruent action)

Lack of clarity of values

Inaction, impulsivity, and rigidity.

These key factors contribute to clients getting stuck by limiting their ability to deal with situations in new and creative ways. When clients are inflexible, they have fewer options available to help themselves overcome barriers and make progress meeting their values-based goals.We can help our coaching clients get unstuck by applying the same core process that ACT therapists use to help their therapy clients. The major difference is that our clients do not have diagnosed mental disorders and in many cases are already functioning at very high levels.The six core processes used to help coaching clients get unstuck are :

Being present (developing mindfulness)

Defining valued directions (values clarification)

Taking committed action (acting on values-congruent goals)

Seeing the self as context (we are more than our thoughts)

Practicing acceptance

Practicing cognitive defusion (stepping back and observing unhelpful thoughts).
Remember, your coaching clients do not have diagnosed mental disorders; they are just stuck.

My AC Coaching Course will show you how to integrate these six core processes and help them become more psychologically flexible by using easy to learn techniques derives from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

Find out more by getting a free copy of my AC Coaching Training Session. This 30 minute training course (a $79.00 value) is yours free .

Click Here : Introduction to AC Coaching Free Training Session 



  1. Looking forward to it.

  2. Hi, Rich, Thanks for doing this.

    • My pleasure

  3. Thanks, Rich. It was very informative.

    • Hi Gail,

      Thanks for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed it.




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