Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of psychotherapy that combines mindfulness techniques with acceptance and behaviour change strategies. It is based on the psychological framework known as contextual behavioural science.

ACT aims to help individuals develop psychological flexibility by teaching them to accept their thoughts and feelings rather than trying to eliminate or suppress them. It emphasizes the importance of being present in the moment and engaging in actions that align with one’s values and goals.

The therapy focuses on six core processes:

  1. Acceptance: ACT encourages individuals to accept their internal experiences, including difficult thoughts, emotions, and sensations, rather than trying to control or avoid them. Acceptance involves allowing these experiences to exist without judgment or attempts to change them.
  2. Cognitive Defusion: This process involves distancing oneself from unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. By recognizing that thoughts are not necessarily true or accurate representations of reality, individuals can reduce their impact on behaviour and emotions.
  3. Being Present: ACT emphasizes mindfulness practices to help individuals stay fully engaged in the present moment. By cultivating awareness of the present experience, individuals can better respond to the situation at hand rather than being caught up in past regrets or future worries.
  4. Self-as-Context: This process involves recognizing that individuals are more than their thoughts, feelings, or experiences. It helps develop a sense of self that is more flexible and adaptable, allowing individuals to make choices in line with their values rather than being driven solely by thoughts or emotions.
  5. Values Clarification: ACT assists individuals in identifying their core values, which are the desired qualities and principles that guide their actions and give their life meaning. Understanding personal values helps individuals set meaningful goals and make decisions aligned with those values.
  6. Committed Action: This process involves taking purposeful and effective action towards one’s values and goals. It encourages individuals to engage in behaviours that lead to a fulfilling life, even in the presence of difficult thoughts or feelings.

ACT has been found to be effective in treating a wide range of psychological conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, chronic pain, and eating disorders. It can be delivered in individual therapy sessions, group therapy settings, or as part of self-help interventions.

Patricia Clancy Counselling