What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?
ACT is focused on helping you to increase acceptance of your full range of subjective experiences, including distressing thoughts, beliefs, sensations, and feelings, to promote desired behaviour change that will improve your quality of life.
A key principle of ACT is that attempting to control your unwanted experiences (such as stress or anxiety) is both ineffective and counterproductive, as it will usually cause an increase in distress. You are encouraged to engage with your experiences fully and without defence, while moving towards your valued goals. ACT also helps you to identify your core values and translate them into specific behavioural goals.
How does ACT work?
ACT uses six techniques to improve your wellbeing:
- The Present Moment – you will focus on the concept and practice of mindfulness, and learn to be here in the moment
- Define your Values – by defining what is most important to you, your purpose and direction in life, you will develop a foundation for better decision-making where you pursue a more value-focused future.
- Take Committed Action – you will take active steps towards your goals, despite the experience of uncomfortable thoughts and actions that might arise.
- Self-as-Context – you will learn to understand the ‘observing self’, that part of us which is aware of the actions of our mind, and which allows us to step outside our beliefs about ourselves and non-judgementally observe our own internal processes
- Defusion – you will learn to notice the process of your thoughts, rather than just the thought itself. By practicing this, you will learn how to see the distance between your thoughts and yourself, and not be caught up in unhelpful thinking.
- Practice Acceptance – by practicing non-judgmental awareness of both internal and external events, and recognising that some events are outside your control, you can focus on those actions within your control.
The purpose of these processes is to build psychological flexibility – the capacity to be present, open up, and focus on what matters to you. The greater your ability to be psychologically flexible – the greater your quality of life and your sense of wellbeing and fulfilment.
Who can benefit from ACT?
ACT is effective for assisting clients with:
- social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and some other anxiety disorders
- substance use disorders, including cessation of smoking
- chronic pain.
Many people also find ACT processes allow them to view their life in a new, more value-oriented way – allowing them to pursue more purposeful opportunities and to live a richer life.
How Seed Psychology can help you
Our psychologists are skilled and experienced with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, as well as a range of other psychological treatments. We will work with you on a tailored treatment plan, to help you recover and improve your wellbeing.