Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an effective tool for building mindfulness skills that help you live and behave in ways that are consistent with your own personal values.
Similar to traditional behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), ACT can help you accept uncomfortable thoughts or deep feelings as an appropriate response to certain situations without letting those feelings prevent you from moving forward. As you accept and become more comfortable with thoughts that hold you back, you can take the necessary steps to commit to behavioral changes.
ACT Basics and Benefits
Life is not easy, and sometimes there is nothing that we can do to change that. However, experiencing challenges does not mean a person cannot live a fulfilling and meaningful life. Acceptance Commitment Therapy uses mindfulness—the conscious awareness of your experience and an openness and receptiveness to engaging fully in what is going on around you—to reduce the impact of negative thoughts and painful feelings.
Unlike other mindfulness therapies, though, ACT is not geared toward reducing symptoms (harmful thoughts or strong feelings), and it is not based on the assumption that your psychological suffering is a disease to be cured or something abnormal to be eliminated. Instead, ACT allows space for you to continue feeling those things while developing the skills to move forward in spite of them.
When ACT is Used in Therapy
One of the benefits of ACT is its versatility and application for a wide variety of people in multiple clinical settings. ACT can be used for individuals, couples, and groups, and it’s applicable in both short-term therapy or long-term therapy depending on your needs. ACT is individualized to each person’s treatment protocol so you get the most benefit.
What to Expect During ACT
During ACT, your therapist will guide you through a framework that helps you develop “psychological flexibility” around negative thoughts and feelings. It includes:
- Acceptance: understanding that you will sometimes have unpleasant thoughts or uncomfortable experiences and you do not need to deny or try to change them.
- Cognitive defusion: changing how you react to your thoughts or feelings by facing them head-on without becoming fixated on them.
- Being present: learning to accept what you are experiencing without trying to predict what will happen in the future or change what is happening now.
- Self as context: learning how to observe yourself, watching, and experiencing what is happening without getting caught up in your immediate thoughts and emotions.
- Setting values: clarifying what is most important to you and how you want to live.
- Commitment to act: identifying the actions you want to take and committing to do the things that will help you move your life in the direction of what you value.
How to Find the Right ACT Therapist
There is no certification for therapists who provide ACT, but qualified therapists who use this technique can register with the Association for Contextual Behavior Sciences (ACBS). Salt Lake Resilience Co. offers this therapy and can discuss it with you if you are interested in learning more. Reach out today to learn more and schedule a consultation.