ACT is a cognitive behavioral method of psychology that emphasizes processes such as mindfulness and acceptance in helping individuals to overcome the obstacles in their lives. ACT embraces the idea that pain and suffering are normal (and unavoidable) aspects of human experience and it may actually be our attempts to control and avoid these experiences that leads to long-term suffering. Instead of teaching patients to control their thoughts, feelings and actions like during CBT; ACT teaches you to notice, accept and embrace life’s experiences, in every shade. The goal of therapy is to learn how to deal with the painful parts of your life and to help bring clarity to improve and enrich daily living.
ACT views the core of many problems in our lives to be down to the acronym FEAR:
- Fusion with your thoughts
- Evaluation of experience
- Avoidance of your experience
- Reason for your behaviour
The healthy alternative is to ACT:
- Accept your reactions and be present
- Choose a valued direction
- Take action
ACT can be delivered in many different ways; it can be long or short term or ultra brief, depending on what you and your therapist decide together. During the session, ACT uses three broad categories of techniques:
- Mindfulness: bringing one’s attention to the present experience and learning to perceive thoughts, memories and emotions as what they are not what they appear to be
- Acceptance: Allowing these feelings and memories to come and go without struggling to control/avoid them
- Commitment: Discovering what values are important to oneself and be committed to carrying them out.
During ACT therapy you will develop skills in recognizing, recontextualizing and eventually accepting your experiences. This will allow you to develop greater clarity about what you truly value and ultimately empower you to commit to the desired behavior change.
ACT can be used to treat a variety of different psychological conditions, including depression and anxiety disorders. In particular, it is considered a highly effective treatment for post traumatic stress disorder, due to its use of acceptance of the event, rather than attempting to change the feelings that occur because of it. It is also commonly used to treat pain whereby it helps individuals to accept pain and take the appropriate action to deal with it.
Please get in contact to find out more about how ACT could benefit you personally.