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ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)...A Summary

ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)...A Summary

ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) is a therapeutic treatment intervention that is based on behavioral therapy more specifically Relational Frame Theory (RFT). One of the essential components of ACT is to encourage values-guided action. ACT is also about taking mindful action.

When thinking about who you want to be or certain changes you want to make, ACT would present questions such as: “What do you want to stand for in life? What really matters, deep in your heart? [What are] your heart’s deepest desires for whom you want to be and what you want to do during your brief time on this planet.” (Harris, 2009)

ACT includes mindfulness skills as well as encourages one to take action that is based upon their own values and in ways that will ultimately enrich their lives.

ACT is different than many therapy approaches in that it does not focus much on symptom reduction. Rather, ACT believes that people can live fulfilling and enriched lives by using the ACT principles regardless of symptoms. Harris (2009) points out that ACT assumes that (a) quality of life is primarily dependent upon mindful, values-guided action, and (b) this is possible regardless of how many symptoms you have– provided that you respond to your symptoms with mindfulness.

The goal of ACT is “mindful, values-congruent living” (Harris, 2009).

The goal of ACT is not to reduce symptoms but this has occurred in “almost every trial and study ever done on ACT” (Harris, 2009). This idea of not focusing on reducing symptoms can seem a bit challenging to some professionals who come from disciplines and approaches that focus on this more heavily.

ACT assumes that human suffering is natural and normal and a common experience of all humans. ACT believes that this suffering is due to human language as our mind creates suffering through negative self-talk and undesired memories and thoughts arise.

One of the goals of ACT is to help people deal with the inevitable pain of human experience through the process of mindfulness.

Basically, as Harris (2009) describes it, “mindfulness means paying attention with flexibility, openness, and curiosity.”

The six core therapeutic processes of ACT include:

  • contacting the present moment
    • This process refers to being in the moment. It is very difficult for many human beings to be in the moment. People are often thinking about something other than what is going on in front of them or trying to multitask and not really paying attention to what they are doing.
  • defusion
    • This process refers to being able to separate ourselves from our thoughts. This is a matter of being able to step back from our thoughts and not cling to them so tightly. Instead, we should look at them as just thoughts, just words or pictures.
  • acceptance
    • This process means making room for negative experiences in our minds. We don’t have to like any of the painful things we have experienced or any of the unpleasant thoughts we have, but acceptance simply means allowing them to be.
  • self-as-context
    • This process refers to being able to understand the “observing self.” There are two different aspects to the mind, the thinking self and the observing self. Most people think of the mind as being the thinking self, the part of us that comes up with thoughts, beliefs, memories, and so on, but many people aren’t aware of the observing self, the part of our mind that is able to step back and simply observe the thinking self and the rest of our own being. This part of yourself is and always will be the same you whereas our thinking self and physical self can change.
  • values
    • This process encourages us to identify what we want to stand for, what truly matters to us. Identifying your own values can help you to make decisions in regards to taking action about behavior change. Values might also be referred to as “chosen life directions.”
  • committed action
    • This process is about taking values-congruent action. In this process, individuals make behavior change that is based upon their own values. There are many different behavioral interventions that can be implemented in this process, such as goal setting, skills training, self-soothing, and time management.

image credit: alexlmx via Fotalia

Reference: Harris, R. 2009. ACT Made Simple. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is the first of a ‘third wave’ of psychotherapy that includes Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and so on.

‘Third wave’ therapies place a major emphasis on developing mindfulness skills.

“So what is ACT really about?

Don’t tell me it’s just learning to accept and commit to things?”

More specifically, the goal of ACT is to accept what is outside of our “sphere of influence” or personal control, especially unwanted private experiences which include feelings, thoughts, and urges, and commit to productive actions that improve and enrich your life.

Seems easy, but is it really?A general objective of ACT is to help individuals develop psychological flexibility – the ability to remain in contact with the present moment, and being able to adjust or persist in behavior while staying true to your personal values.


An Effective Metaphor

Acceptance and commitment therapy metaphors can adapt to different kinds of problems. The important thing is for the patient to find them useful and for them to facilitate the necessary therapeutic changes.

The metaphor has to be effective, and not just a story that has nothing to do with the patient. Consequently, the metaphor should meet the following criteria:

  • The metaphor should be consistent with the patient’s level of development. The patient has to understand the metaphor. It should relate to the patient’s direct experience, or to things that are common knowledge for their social group and age (McCurry and Hayes, 1992).
  • There should be a clear correspondence between the person’s problem and the story.
  • The metaphor should be action-oriented. It has to outline in some way the steps that the patient should take in real life to change their behavior.
  • It’s important for the metaphor to offer a solution. That way, the patient will be able to see behavior they didn’t see before and reinterpret or solve their problem.

References

Bernier, M., Thienot, E., Codron, R., & Fournier, J. F. (2009). Mindfulness and acceptance approaches in sport performance. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 3(4), 320-333.

Clark, D. M., Ball, S., & Pape, K. (1991). An experimental investigation of thought suppression. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 31, 207-210.

Crocker, P. R. E., Alderman, R. B., & Smith, M. R. (1988) Cognitive-affective stress management training with high performance youth volleyball players: Effects on affect, cognition, and performance. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 10, 448-460.

Eysenck, M. W., and Calvo, M. G. (1992). Anxiety and performance: The processing efficiency theory. Cognition and Emotion, 6, 409-434.

Garcia, R.F., Villa, R.S., Cepeda, N.T., Cueto, E.G., & Montes, J.M.G. (2004). Efecto de la hypnosis y la terapia de aceptcion y compromiso (ACT) en la mejora de la fuerza fisica en piraguistas. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 4, 481–493.

Gardner, F.L., & Moore. Z. E. (2001, October). The Multi-level Classification System for Sport Psychology (MCS-SP): Toward a structured assessment and conceptualization of athlete-clients. Workshop presented at the annual conference of the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology, Orlando, FL.

Gardner, F. L., & Moore, Z. E. (2004). A mindfulness-acceptance-commitment-based approach to athletic performance enhancement: Theoretical considerations. Behavior Therapy, 35(4), 707-723.

Gardner, F. L. & Moore, Z. E. (2007). The psychology of enhancing human performance: The mindfulness-acceptance-commitment (MAC) approach. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Gould, D., Eklund, R. C., & Jackson, S. A. (1992). 1988 U.S. Olympic wrestling excellence: Mental preparation, precompetitive cognition, and affect. The Sport Psychologist, 6, 358-382.

Hasker, S. M. (2011). Evaluation of the Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) approach for enhancing athletic performance. Dissertation Abstracts International, 71(9-B), pp. 57-90.

Hayes, S. C., Follette, V. M., & Linehan, M. M. (Eds.). (2004). Mindfulness and acceptance: Expanding the cognitive-behavioral tradition. New York: Guilford Press.

Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K., & Wilson, K. G., (1999). Acceptance and commitment therapy: An experiential approach to behavior change. New York: Guilford Press.

Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K., & Wilson, K. G. (2012). Acceptance and commitment therapy: The process and practice of mindful change. New York: Guilford Press.

Lutkenhouse, J., Gardner, F. L., & Morrow, C. (2007). A randomized controlled trial comparing the performance enhancement effects of Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) performance enhancement and psychological skills training procedures. Manuscript in preparation.

Wenzlaff, R. M., & Wegner, D. M. (2000). Thought suppression. Annual Review of Psychology, 51, 59-91.

Wehlen, J., Mahoney, M., & Meyers, A. (1991). Performance enhancement in sport: A cognitive behavioral domain. Behavior Therapy, 22, 307-327.

Wolanin, A. T. (2005). Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) based performance enhancement for Division I collegiate athletes: A preliminary investigation (Doctoral dissertation, La Salle University, 2003). Dissertation Abstracts International-B, 65, 3735-3794.


ACT vs CBT

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) consists of the cognitive and behaviour parts of the treatment. While the behavioural part of CBT is very similar to both ERP and ACT, there are significant differences in the cognitive part.

Both ACT and CBT address changing your thinking.

CBT does it through strategies such as challenging negative automatic thoughts, addressing cognitive distortions, and changing “unhelpful” thoughts to more “rational” ones.

ACT therapists, on the other hand, would rarely encourage you to dispute your thoughts in any way. They will work on changing your relationship with your thoughts by learning to observe them, effectively unhook from them, and increase your flexibility of responses to the thoughts. In ACT, the content of a thought is not that important. What is important is how helpful would it be for you if you would allow that thought to guide your actions.

This distinction is especially crucial in the treatment of OCD. In OCD, the content of the thoughts is never the real problem. It’s the engagement with the thoughts, taking them seriously, being afraid of the thoughts – in other words, the process of being hooked by the thoughts is the driving force behind OCD. So, disputing the thoughts is just another compulsion.

ACT, therefore, is the therapy that allows you to step out of your struggle and break free from being a prisoner of your thoughts, rather than engaging in endless debates with them.

Have you tried Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for OCD? Are you considering trying it? Please share your thoughts and experience in the comments below.


Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) in Melbourne

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is about getting out of your mind and into your life. ACT is a behavioural therapy it’s about taking action: values-guided action. ACT can help you to figure out what you want your life to stand for and to explore what really matters to you. In ACT, you use your core values to guide, motivate and inspire behavioural change. It is also about “mindful” action – with full awareness, being open to your experience and fully engaged in whatever you’re doing. The ultimate aim of ACT is to create a rich, full, and meaningful life while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it.

What is actually involved in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

ACT involves a combination of talk therapy, guided meditations and exercises, activities and homework tasks. In ACT, your psychologist will teach you Mindfulness skills to help you handle painful thoughts and feelings effectively, and in such a way that they have less impact and influence on you. Your psychologist will also work with you to clarify what is truly important and meaningful to you – that is, your values – and use that information to guide, inspire and motivate you to set goals and take action steps toward creating an enriching and meaningful life.

What are the six core therapeutic processes of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

  1. Contacting the Present Moment (Be Here Now): Being psychologically present and consciously connecting with whatever is happening in this moment
  2. Defusion (Watch Your Thinking): Learning to step back from thoughts, images and memories.
  3. Acceptance (Open Up): Making room for painful feelings, sensations, urges and emotions and dropping the struggle with them.
  4. Self-as-Context (Pure Awareness): Recognising the two distinct elements of the mind, the “thinking self” and the “observing self”.
  5. Values (Know What Matters): Clarifying desired qualities of ongoing action.
  6. Committed Action (Do What It Takes): Taking effective action, guided by your values.

If you are interested in learning more about ACT, please contact us to discuss your individual support needs and arrange a consultation.


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can help you to cultivate a rich and meaningful life, by accepting what is beyond your control, and committing to actions that are in line with your values. ACT can help you to increase your psychological flexibility, allowing you to break free from patterns where you feel stuck, and consciously engage in behaviours that will propel your life forward, towards living more fully as the kind of person that you’d like to be.

While many people wish to completely eliminate or avoid painful thoughts and feelings, efforts to do so are usually short lived – as negative feelings always return. Additionally, spending energy trying to control or avoid negative feelings can actually amplify them in the long term, and the side effects can diminish your quality of life. For example, the more you fear something (and avoid it) the longer you tend to struggle with it, and the worse your anxiety gets over time. Alternatively, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can teach you how to change your relationship to these painful thoughts and feelings so that they have less impact and less influence over you, empowering you to re-focus on moving towards who and what is important to you.

How does Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) work?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) focuses on six main processes:

Acceptance: Making room for whatever shows up in one’s internal, private experience, be it thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories, and urges. Letting these experiences come and go, and be as they are, instead of fighting against them. By dropping the struggle, you can refocus on connecting to what’s most important to you.

Cognitive Defusion: Being able to relate to unhelpful thoughts and beliefs in a new way, such as observing them without getting caught up in them, or letting them go. It involves seeing thoughts for what they are, not what they say they are. We can learn to notice thoughts as words or mental images, without acting on them.

Present Moment: ACT teaches flexible engagement with moments in the “here and now”, from a place of openness and curiosity.

The Observing Self: One part of our mind is often busy with mental activity such as thinking, judging, planning, worrying, etc., while another part of our mind is able to notice and observe these mental functions. The part that notices our thoughts, as well as our feelings and bodily sensations, is called the Observing Self. The Observing Self is pure awareness. Pure awareness allows us to take space from painful thoughts and feelings, so that we have more freedom to choose how to respond in a given moment (rather than react).

Values: Our hearts deepest desires for what we want our life to stand for, what kind of person we want to be. The types of relationships that we want to cultivate. The direction we want our life to go in. There are no right or wrong values, they are freely chosen, moment to moment by each person. It is not “I should do…” it is “I want to do….”

Committed Action: When we are clear on what is important to us, we can take steps towards that. We can set small, medium, and long-term goals, and build up patterns of behaviour that will take us in the desired direction, in terms of how we want to live our life. Committed action is difficult, it often means facing what we have avoided. However, it is meaningful, in that it allows us to move forward, according to what we value.

What sort of problems can ACT help with?

ACT is for anyone who wants to reduce their psychological suffering and increase their well-being. ACT can be used in individual therapy, couples therapy, group therapy, workplace trainings, and many other settings.


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Trauma

Whether it is the aftermath of natural disasters, war, violent and/or abusive relationships, childhood trauma, bullying, accidents or any other threatening experience, these experiences can have long-term psychological effects. The painful emotional reactions we experience in reaction to the trauma often leads to symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and so many other issues related to life functioning, interpersonal relationships, physical health, as well as a variety of behavioral problems such as substance abuse, self-harm and risk-taking behaviors.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a principle-based behavioral intervention that addresses human suffering from a mindful and compassionate perspective. While ACT has been applied to a wide variety of problems, it’s also well suited for treating PTSD.

Many sufferers or victims of trauma attempt to recover by trying to regain control over their distressing, painful responses to their intrusive thoughts and ongoing feelings of fear and sadness. Some of these attempts are helpful and bring temporary relief. However, most of these attempts to avoid emotions and thoughts often result in a furthering of the suffering. We call these attempts to avoid these painful, distressing and confronting thoughts, feelings and experiences ‘Experiential Avoidance’.

As an antidote to Experiential Avoidance, ACT seeks to reduce rigid attempts to control negative emotions by fostering acceptance through mindfulness and defusion techniques. ACT revitalizes client lives by defining personal values and committing to taking actions guided by those values. The ultimate goal in ACT is to support clients in recovery through increasing psychological and behavioral flexibility in the service of a more workable life. Let me explain …

The Rationale Behind Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for PTSD

As long as humankind has existed, we have learned to judge some feelings, thoughts and physical sensations as bad and others as good. For example, fear, pain, sadness, discomfort and anger are viewed as bad or threatening emotions, while happiness, pleasure and joy as good or positive ones.

When we experience these bad feelings, our instinctive drive to survive tells us that there must be some threat to our existence. That there is a problem. This activates our fight-or-flight response in order to escape or fix whatever the threat or problem is, to do whatever we can to avoid these bad feelings.

When we are experiencing the good feelings, it means we are safe and that we are flourishing. It’s understandable, then, that we avoid any situations, experiences, thoughts or feelings that tell us that we are under threat, and that we constantly try to escape these feelings and thoughts through experiencing the good, pleasant and comforting thoughts, feelings and experiences.

Avoidance Doesn’t Work

However, this form of avoidance usually doesn’t work well in the long run.

Avoidance doesn’t work because emotional pain is a part of life. We can’t really avoid it. Everyone at some point or another has painful feelings such as sadness, anxiety, or anger. These feelings and thoughts serve a purpose and your mind’s main purpose of protecting you and ensuring your survival, forces your mind to identify and anticipate any possible threats to your existence and to your physical and emotional safety. When your mind then identifies any possible threat, it will do everything in its power to inform you of this threat. It relies on the fact that it will cause you pain, fear, sadness or anger, to motivate you to fight, flight or freeze.

How we choose to respond to painful feelings can be the difference between getting through the pain or keeping it going and making it worse. In fact, trying to avoid or escape painful thoughts and feelings may be what leads to suffering and psychological disorders. For example, a person who’s lived through a traumatic event may be constantly flooded by memories of the trauma as well as by anxiety and fear. As a result, that person may try to get temporary relief through drugs or alcohol (“self-medicating”). That may work in the short run, but in the long run, the alcohol or drugs will do nothing to relieve the pain. Instead, the pain is likely to get worse—and introduce a host of other problems.

ACT is a cognitive behavioural intervention based on the idea that psychological suffering comes not from feeling emotional pain but rather from our attempts to avoid that pain. The main objective of ACT is to help people be both open and willing to experience their inner painful feelings while they focus attention, not on trying to escape or avoid these painful thoughts, feelings or situations (because this is impossible), but on living a meaningful life through acting according to your own personal values.

The 5 Goals of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy for PTSD and other mental health disorders can be broken down into five goals.

1 – Realizing that efforts to escape and avoid thoughts and feelings are futile

ACT therapists call this goal creative hopelessness. It’s met when you see that all the things you’ve been trying to do to avoid emotional pain, flashbacks, memories, nightmares, thoughts or feelings do not work, and there will probably never be an effective way of completely removing emotional pain from your life.

2 – Realizing that our efforts to “control thoughts, feelings and situations” are causing more problems

The second goal of ACT is your understanding that your problems come not from the emotional pain itself but from your attempts to control or avoid it. In fact, from your ACT for PTSD, you may learn that trying to control emotional pain has the opposite effect: Besides potentially making the pain worse, you may spend so much time and energy trying to avoid it that you have none left for pursuing positive things in your life.

3 – Viewing yourself as “separate from your thoughts and feelings”

We call this your “Observing Self”. A person who has experienced a traumatic event may have thoughts of being a bad person or “broken” or “damaged,” or that more terrible things are about to happen. Our thoughts are very believable. However, although these thoughts may feel true, they are only thoughts. The aim is to step out of your thoughts and see them as thoughts and to not buy into them as the truth. A thought is just a thought. It is not a reflection of who the person really is, of what the current situation is, or what will happen in the future.

4 – Drop the Battle (Acceptance)

The goal is to let go of attempts to avoid or control your thoughts and feelings and, instead, to practise being both open and willing to experience thoughts and feelings for what they are and not what you think they are (for example, bad or dangerous). Can I give permission for my thoughts feelings and memories to be there, and to stop trying to escape, avoid or fix them? Can I allow myself to experience fear, flashbacks or memories of my trauma? That is what they are. It is not what is happening now or in the future, I do not have to engage in a battle to make it go away or to prevent it from happening.

5 – Committing to Values Guided Action

When you are engaging in efforts to avoid or escape your painful thoughts and feelings around your trauma, it uses a lot of your mental and sometimes physical energy.

As a result, you may not be placing much time or energy into living a meaningful and rewarding life. Therefore, the final goal of ACT for PTSD is identifying areas of importance in your life (referred to as “values”) and increasing the time you spend doing things that are consistent with those values, no matter what emotions or thoughts may arise. For example, a victim of an abusive relationship might avoid social interaction or engaging in an intimate relationship out of fear of re-experiencing the trauma, despite really valuing emotional closeness, connection, affection and intimacy. The aim is to get this victim to acknowledge the thoughts, feelings and memories for what they are, to accept or allow them to be there, but to engage in actions or behaviours that will allow this person to live a meaningful and fulfilling life where they get to experience these values.

If you have experienced trauma and:

  • find yourself no longer living a fulfilling life
  • are no longer living according to your values
  • find yourself avoiding situations, thoughts, feelings and memories
  • feel you are detached and disconnected from your life, your goals and the things that really matter to you
  • you are engaging in behaviours to avoid or escape your feelings and thoughts and as a result experiencing more emotional suffering

you do not have to continue in this battle. You can learn how to accept your thoughts, feelings and traumas, and to engage in a fulfilling life.

Author: Willem van den Berg, B SocSci (Psychology & Criminology), B SocSci (Hons) (Psych), MSc Clinical Psychology.

Willem van den Berg is a Brisbane Psychologist with a compassionate, positive and non-judgmental approach, working with individuals, couples and families. His therapeutic toolbox includes evidence-based therapies including Clinical Hypnotherapy (Medical Hypno-Analysis), CBT, ACT and Interpersonal Therapy. William is fluent in both English and Afrikaans.


What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based behavioural therapy, which at it’s core is about accepting what is out of your personal control, and committing to taking action that will improve your life. It has been proven to be effective in treating a wide range of psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, anorexia, chronic pain, and work place stress.

The Aims of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

The primary aim of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is to help you create a rich, full and meaningful life and take action by your core values. What do you want to stand for in life? What is important to you deep in your heart? Acceptance and Commitment Therapy calls these “values”, and part of the ACT process involves spending time clarifying your core values.

This information is then used to help you to set treatment goals, and begin taking action that will improve your life. Values help an individual to create a sense of purpose, vitality and meaning.

Additionally, in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy you will learn skills to help you handle painful thoughts and feelings more effectively, and so that they have less influence over your life. These are called ‘mindfulness skills’.

Mindfulness involves living in the present moment by engaging fully in what we are doing, rather than getting lost in thoughts and feelings. You learn to let thoughts and feelings come and go, rather than attempting to control them. Learning mindfulness skills will allow you to handle even the most difficult thoughts and feelings. Skills taught will require you to practice in between sessions as the more you practice, the more you will benefit.

How is ACT different to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

Unlike CBT, ACT does not attempt to control or eliminate unwanted thoughts and feelings. The main focus is to develop a new relationship with those thoughts and feelings, so you no longer get caught up in them.

People often ask how many sessions of ACT will be required before they see any changes, which can be difficult to answer as everyone is different and the number of sessions needed varies from individual to individual. However, an initial commitment of 6 sessions is recommended, with more sessions added if needed.

Author: Angela Bromfield, B Sc (Hons Psych), B Ed (Primary), M Ed Psych.

Angela Bromfield is a registered psychologist who is skilled in a number of therapies including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She will ensure you get the right treatment for you and get you back on track to leading a rich full and meaningful life!


Mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and More

Today there is much research to support the benefits of mindfulness to a person’s physical and psychological health. Mindfulness refers to meditative ideas and practices that involve observing thoughts and feelings and letting go of the need to change or ruminate about things. Mindfulness-Based Therapies encompass mindfulness philosophies and techniques in their intervention approach. In a world that is becoming increasingly fast-paced and competitive with technology and social media, it’s hard not to feel the intensity of time, the demand to get things done and be the very best, to the point that one is not really paying attention to what is happening on the inside. This directing of awareness to one’s inner world in a way that is non-judgemental – thoughts are neither good nor bad but are just that, thoughts – and leads to greater contentment.

Mindfulness-based strategies and ideas are included in therapies such as Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Mindfulnes-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). At our clinic we use mindfulness strategies within various models of therapy to help with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, etc. Mindfulness techniques include breathing and relaxation exercises along with guided imagery to direct attention to one’s thoughts and feelings in a more mindful way.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based model of psychotherapy that combines important aspects of cognitive behaviour therapy and traditional models of behavioural therapy.

In ACT, client are encouraged to stop avoiding, denying, and struggling with their emotions and learn to accept such feelings as adaptive responses to situations. Such acceptance and giving up the fight against the emotions allows them to move forward in their life. Such acceptance along with evaluation and understanding of one’s values leads to commitment to making necessary changes in their behaviour.

The ACT therapist helps you listen to your inner dialogue, particularly about traumatic events, relationships, physical problems and other issues. You decide if the issue requires immediate action and change or if you need to accept it and make behaviour adjustments. You may examine past behaviours that did not work so that your therapist can help you stop repeating unproductive patterns of behaviour and identify ones that are more productive. Once you face and accept your issues, you can make a commitment to stop fighting your past and emotions and start engaging in constructive behaviours that are consistent with your personal values and goals.

The rationale underlying ACT is that it is counterproductive to try to control painful emotions or psychological experiences as such reactions lead to greater distress. The ACT therapist assists the client in adopting the view that there are valid alternatives to trying to change the way one thinks these include being mindful, attentive of one’s personal values and at the same time accepting one’s psychological experiences.


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