ACT (Accept and Commitment Therapy) is a therapeutic approach to living mindfully by building curiosity around uncomfortable experiences, emotions and thoughts then engaging in actions that are in harmony with our values.
Mindful living, in the ACT approach, means noticing patterns that are no longer working for us then shifting without judgement to a more workable response by using efficient and effective strategies to keep us moving forward with clarity.
Another important aspect of ACT is values clarification. For example, let’s say your wish is to be more comfortable in your body. If your wish came true, what would you be able to do, feel, notice, experience. Perhaps freedom, authenticity, love, self-care...click ‘list’ to view further options. Once you have identified the values that you want to move toward, we work together to help you re-engage with committed action – taking purposeful action towards these values.
De-fusion is a third aspect of the ACT approach refering to the way we react and engage with our thoughts. Does this sound familiar? ‘I cannot believe I just did that...now everyone’s going to know I am a _______’. We ‘fuse’ with this familiar unworkable self-talk that can eventually lead us down the rabbit hole of despair. ACT offers techniques to help us de-fuse from this rumination allowing us to be present and flow with ease from one moment to the next. ACT is an evidence based approach that benefits clients looking to live a life of growth, empowerment and vitality.
Who does ACT help?
Anyone who struggles with painful emotions, thoughts, memories, or urges (known in the ACT world as “behavioral predispositions”) of any kind. ACT encourages the acceptance (The “A” in ACT) that these are private mental experiences over which we have no control, and promotes taking committed (Commitment is the “C” in ACT) action guided by our authentic values. The result is a more fulfilling and vitalized life, in which the struggle to relieve ourselves of inevitable painful experiences doesn’t dictate our every move.
People who commonly can benefit from ACT include those experiencing anxiety, including social anxiety, obsessive compulsive symptoms, panic attacks or panic disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder, among other types. Also those experiencing depression ranging from mild to severe are often able to use ACT principles to improve the quality of their life. Research has also shown success by those suffering from psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusional thoughts, in applying the principles of ACT to their experience.
ACT is Mindful Based A characteristic of ACT is that it is considered to be “mindful based” – meaning that it is focused on the here and now and is designed to allow you to overcome negative thoughts, which are connected to feelings.
When you think of ACT, think of a goal focused type therapy that is concerned with changing how you cope with various life challenges.
ACT also speaks to the “C” part of the acronym regarding “Commitment”. In this way, the goal is to focus on your commitment to the change process and come up with strategies when you are unable to stick to your identified goals.
What can ACT Be Used For?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach, has lots of practical uses in everyday life.
Here are just a few of them:
*Reducing excessive worry *Changing relationships with phobias & fears. *Anxiety and Stress reduction *Increasing confidence and self-esteem. *Stopping learned helplessness *Working through past traumas *Goal setting – short term and long term *Working through feelings of sadness *Moving through loss and grief
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can yield meaningful results.
This skill building form of personal therapy is simple in its approach but requires that you actively commit yourself to the change process.