The Fourth Wave of Behaviorism: ACT, DBT and Nondual Wisdom

One of the many convergences occurring in our time is between the field of behavioral psychology and nondual wisdom. The “third wave of behaviorism” integrates mindfulness and acceptance techniques with behavioral activation and cognitive change technologies from the first and second wave to create treatments like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy(DBT). These treatments are “evidence based”, meaning that research trials have proven their effectiveness in reducing the suffering caused by many kinds of psychological problems. In this article I want to explore the foundations of a fourth wave of behaviorism in which the techniques and principles of the first three are utilized in the service of awakening and liberation as described by the nondual wisdom tradition that includes Zen Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta, Contemplative Christianity, Sufism and the mystical traditions at the core of all religions. Onepotential is to offer an avenue to awakening free of the spiritual and religious trappings that characterize more traditional approaches. The behaviors and conceptual understanding of third wave behavioral therapists will be compared and contrasted with those of nondual teachers like Adyashanti, Gangaji, Isaac Shapiro and Dorothy Hunt in order to investigate what these fields may be able to learn from one another in freeing people from suffering.

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The Fourth Wave of Behaviorism: ACT, DBT and Nondual Wisdom

About Michael Baugh

Michael Baugh, LCSW, teaches CBT, ACT and DBT at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and operates the Third Wave Behavioral Center of Issaquah in Washington State. He was the founder of New Perspectives Center for Counseling in San Francisco, was its Clinical Director for 13 years, and has trained MFT intern therapists for 25 years. Recognized as a Sufi Shaykh by the Ruhaniat order, he has been a longtime student of Gangaji, Adyashanti and Dorothy Hunt in the embodiment process after awakening. His 40 years of interfaith study and practice have included a three month yoga journey at age 21 to India and the feet of Neem Karoli Maharaj, several lengthy Vipassana retreats, ten years training in Sufi practices and dance, and ten years as the musical director of Or Shalom Jewish Community. He is author of the article “Ways Within Each Other” about the relationship between Rumi and Shams.


This entry was posted in Clinical Theory and Practice, Volume 1 : Issue 2. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Fourth Wave of Behaviorism: ACT, DBT and Nondual Wisdom

  1. jane says:

    Michael, Thank you for this relevant and extremely useful “4th Wave” article. It wove together several threads of practice and thought I’ve followed but never before saw the now obvious connections among. I have forwarded it to several colleagues, and even a few clients. All have found it to be amazingly helpful. J.P.

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