The art and science of the clinical conversation: an interview with Matthieu Villatte by Fabian Maero


Today’s interview is a little bit more personal than usual. I’ve met Matt a few years ago when he and Jennifer Villatte were part of the ACBS committee reviewing the scholarships applications for developing nations, and I was one of the applicants. Over the course of the years I’ve participated in some of his workshops and courses and I’ve come to appreciate a lot his unique approach to the clinical processes.

Matt is a Research Scientist and Clinical Trainer at the Evidence-Based Practice Institute of Seattle, WA in the United States. He obtained his doctoral degree in France, with an emphasis on Relational Frame Theory (a branch of contextual behavioral science studying language and cognition), and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Nevada, Reno under the mentorship of Steven Hayes, PhD. He is the co-author of the first manual published in French on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and is associate editor of the Journal of Contextual Behavior Science. He is also is an ACT peer-reviewed trainer, as recognized by the ACBS.

But the main reason for this interview is his latest book, co-authored by Jennifer Villatte and Steven Hayes, Mastering the Clinical Conversation: Language as Intervention, one of the most innovative books I’ve read lately.

It is a strange book, it feels like an ACT book, but without address explicitly any ACT concept (for instance, they mention the word “defusion” exactly four times in the whole book, and in every case as a part of a list). Instead, the book explores how to use RFT to enhance clinical processes through conversation; no techniques, no exercises, just how to maintain a good, clinical, RFT-guided conversation. I know, it sounds like the nerd’s dream, but it is actually quite easy to read and surprisingly simple to follow.

So, I invited Matt to talk about the book, the relationship between ACT and RFT, and the road ahead for the CBS.

Read the interview