What is ACT?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a robust psychological treatment that has been clinically proven to treat anxiety, depression, addiction, and other mental health issues. ACT is grounded in research and numerous studies demonstrate ACT’s effectiveness. In a nutshell, ACT stands for Accepting what is not in your control, Committing to your values and to change, and Taking action.
ACT’s main tenant is that psychological suffering is wired into our brains via language and cognition. When we suffer, we tend to avoid, get in our heads, identify with illusory self concepts, and do not live in the present moment. All this can lead to mental illness. ACT utilizes key concepts to bring about change, including mindfulness, values exploration and commitment to action. The goal of ACT is to help individuals live a more vital and meaningful life.
As a psychologist trained in ACT, I have found this therapy to be especially powerful. I have been using ACT since graduate school and use all or some components of ACT in counseling. ACT helps patients overcome their psychological problems and make dramatic lifestyle changes. I have seen ACT work especially well for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and addiction.
How Can ACT Help Me?
ACT has two main functions. The first is to teach you skills that will help you with painful thoughts and emotions. These are the worries, obsessions, cravings, sadness, and fear that have been ruling your life. ACT incorporates mindfulness training to teach you to become more aware of your inner state and improve your focus. This may seem simple, but it’s really about changing the way you experience your inner and outer world and can have a powerful impact. In fact, some therapies focus just on mindfulness training. Cognitive Defusion, Acceptance, and Self as Context are other therapy components that will help you rise above what has been bothering you and to let go of emotional pain.
The other aim is to help you identify what you value in life and to facilitate actual changes that will help you meet your goals. What I like about ACT is the focus on helping individuals make meaningful changes in their lives so that they come away with a new sense of purpose and vitality.
The ACT Model
Below is a diagram that depicts the core tenants of ACT. In therapy, I work on each of these areas to promote psychological flexibility. Depending on an individual’s situation, skills, and interests, we work on certain areas more than others.
ACT in Therapy
You might be wondering if you could do ACT on your own. In fact, there are many books on ACT that might help you. However, ACT requires a huge commitment and this therapy can be very challenging. Working with a psychologist with ACT expertise will guide you through the challenging times and collaboratively work with you every step of the way. I provide the technical knowledge, emotional support, and compassionate environment that can make ACT successful.
For more information about ACT, please visit the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science