Acceptance and Integration Training™ offers relief from many of life’s problems.
Acceptance and Integration Training (AAIT™) is one therapy modality used with clients. Master psychotherapists Melanie McGee and Zivorad Slavinsky developed this approach.
With AAIT, issues can be resolved now without rehashing your entire past.
This modality is excellent for high reactivity such as intense anger, fear, or anxiety to situations, especially if you tend to tell yourself, “I shouldn’t be feeling this,” but you feel it anyway.
People who feel torn in two directions (i.e., “I want to stay, and I want to go.”), suffer from grief and loss (the death of a loved one, of a life not lived, of the childhood you didn’t get, and other losses), or who can’t make a decision (“Should I put my parent in a nursing home?” “Should I take this job offer?” Should I kick my adult kid out of the house?”) can also benefit from AAIT.
AAIT can help people who go back and forth between extremes in their personality, such as someone feeling discomfort about being extremely overconfident or extremely insecure. It’s great for people who feel stuck in one aspect of their personalities, such as The Caregiver, who always feels responsible for everyone else.
Let’s find your ‘calm.’
Suppose you suffer from deep and layered problems that cause emotional pain, such as repeated bad romantic relationships, ongoing pain associated with childhood memories, worries about political situations, or feelings of deep pain and worries. In that case, AAIT can help you overcome those worries. There are specific components of AAIT used for traumatic memories and the loss of parts of the self that trauma can cause.
The experience you receive from AAIT work can create an expanded spiritual awareness of who one truly is. Clients who deeply engage in AAIT work feel peaceful and calm afterward. They express a renewed sense of their strength and inner resources, the ability to make an important decision, the power and confidence to pursue goals, and deep insight into who they are.
These are the six Principles of AAIT™.
1. The true self is not encumbered by the limitations of a narrative. The true self is a Being.
Imagine a tumbleweed with a speck of liquid gold at the center of all the bramble and thorns. The speck of liquid gold is the true self, the living, moving fluid source of our experience and being, some might say the spirit or the soul.
The tumbleweed represents the stories of who we are that we gather and hang on to as we go through life, the experiences that (we think) define us, and the traumas we want to forget, but that have us in their grip. While these stories can be necessary as part of who we are, they are not ultimately definitive or final statements about who we are.
When we focus on AAIT work, we will spend less time on the stories. Instead, we will focus on practices or protocols that lead us directly into the experience rather than the definition of the stories. Then, we will go further into WHAT you indeed are as a living being.
2. Taking responsibility for and tending to our inner state is the source of freedom.
This concept is one of the most profoundly freeing and empowering that I have come across. Often people start therapy feeling that they are at the mercy of other people or their past (“No one wants to hire me,” “No one will ever love me,” “I am damaged goods,” or “She always makes me so mad!”).
Once we look at your therapy goals, we will carefully define what is within your control and what is not. Letting go of what is not in your control can feel like a huge weight off your shoulders, especially when combined with the experience of learning that you DO have more power and say about your inner life than you realize.
AAIT teaches practices/protocols to tend to your inner state so that when you feel crappy, you can do something about it. Imagine the source of your freedom being always present, no matter what your outer circumstances are! This freedom is what AAIT helps you to access.
3. Self-acceptance is a means and measure of well-being.
People often reject parts of themselves and even hate parts of themselves. People also often reject their emotions when the emotions suck for any reason, such as anger, sadness, grief, longing, jealousy, etc. People also reject good feelings such as pride, happiness, peace, etc., if they aren’t used to having good feelings or don’t feel like they deserve them.
The good feelings can also be difficult to accept. (“If I feel this, it will go away.”) Pushing away feelings becomes an automatic habit.
However, what you sweep under the rug will get stronger, bigger, and scarier until it’s met with the real attention it wants and needs.
While growing up, we are usually not taught how to give our emotions the attention they need. AAIT teaches ways to be with all our feelings, allowing them to move on when acknowledged. It’s the same for parts of yourself that you may reject but can’t let go of them. Through AAIT identity work, you can learn to experience ease with and even love for all the parts of yourself, no matter how difficult they seem right now.
4. Resolving reactivity can reveal higher states of consciousness.
Most AAIT protocols aim to reduce emotional reactions that cause distress. For instance, you might experience extreme frustration, anger, or anguish regarding a loved one’s behaviors. If you choose to work on this issue, I will lead you through a series of steps that can reveal a way forward by clearing out the intense emotional reaction.
Once you clear the emotional reaction, you usually experience a spacious internal quietness where the anger/intensity was. Within this quiet place, you can decide how you want to respond rather than feel compelled by emotional forces beyond your control.
Here is an example from my practice (details changed to protect confidentiality). A client complains that his kids drive him nuts and yells at them more than he wants. He feels terrible about this but can’t stop. I ask questions to get the details and determine that this tends to happen most around 6 pm when the client comes home from work and the kids fail to complete their chores.
After engaging the client in a protocol, he reports an immediate feeling of internal peace, but (he tells me later) he secretly doubts the issue is really resolved. However, in the therapy appointment the following week, he told me that although the kids’ behavior had not changed, he didn’t get angry this whole week, and in fact, he felt calm, centered, and able to direct them to do what they need to do.
Because he was calm and not angry toward his kids, they followed his direction more readily. This client will need to continue to practice the protocols over time, as the effect can fade if neglected. Still, with practice, the feeling of equanimity can be present more and more, instead of feeling pushed and pulled by intense emotion.
5. Integrating two opposing states can alleviate psychological suffering.
Emo Phillips said, “Ambiguity is the devil’s volleyball.” We often find ourselves being that volleyball, punted from one side to the next by forces that seem out of our control. For example, we decide to eat healthily for periods – tons of greens, raw foods, and few carbs or sugars. Then we go to the opposite mode, allowing other aspects of our lives to make decisions, and we are back to eating cookies as we numb out by binge-watching Netflix or as we catch up on work at the computer.
There are so many examples of opposites that we get ping-ponged between: there is the dilemma of the working mom, involving constant tension between Work and Family, aka The Myth of the Work/Life Balance (as a working mom myself, I know this one very well). There is the experience of opposites in grief and heartbreak, as we mourn the loss and cannot believe that our person is gone. There are the pull of opposites that many people (including myself) experience regarding the extreme political divides in our country and the emotional and physical violence (the family fights, the social media cancellations, the rejection) that sometimes ensues. Once you start looking, there are opposites in about every daily experience we can have.
The practice of AAIT uses protocols that invite the experience of two opposites at once. This suggestion may sound impossible, but it isn’t. The process is profoundly transformational and creates a feeling of inner calm, a peaceful “nothingness” that is both empty and full simultaneously, and the suffering that one feels from being pulled in two directions at once subsides.
6. Nondual states of empty consciousness are an indication and mechanism of transformation.
Cultivating an awareness of these states contributes to increases in present-focused attention, self-compassion, empathy, and more skillful choices.
The peaceful “nothingness” described above is where the answers to the “whys” often occur.
Clients usually start a therapy session stating, “I want to know why I am this way! Why do I do these things? Why do I feel like this?”
The AAIT protocols can induce the “nothingness” or “pleroma” state that allows clarity of thinking and non-reactive feeling. This state is an honest and real experience of the here-and-now, unclouded by the usual stories and reactions.
After a protocol, it’s not uncommon for a client to say, “I feel better. I feel so peaceful. I feel more relaxed.” “Wow.” The more you have these experiences, the more you will be able to have the kind of responses you want to your life situations.
Clients also say after a protocol: “Now I know why I was doing that.” And “I suddenly remembered something so important that I’d forgotten for so long!” And “I know what I want to do about this problem.”
You can learn more about AAIT™ here.