Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) are a type of psychotherapeutic technique that emphasize the role of acceptance in dealing with the negative emotions, thoughts, actions and situations. Sometime, people do not have the courage to accept the situation and work accordingly, therefore this therapy helps in the acceptance and to move forward. This theory was developed by psychologist Steven C. Hayes in 1980s.
The acronym, ACT, captures the core concepts of acceptance and commitment therapy quite well:
A = Accepts and accepts thoughts and feelings, especially difficult emotions such as fear and pain
C=Choose a life direction that reflects who your client really is.
T = Take steps to act.
At times, client needs to confront the situation and commit to the hardships of the life and try to make necessary changes in order to move forward in their lives. Them this therapy proves to be a very good intervention in moving on.
Aim of ACT is to emphasize the psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility refers to the emotional openness and the ability to adjust your thoughts and behaviour according to your goals or values. ACT doesn’t make the people to completely stop thinking about the unwanted thoughts rather it encourages person to learn from these experiences and accept the changes. It helps people to recognize their fullness and vitality of life.
There are 6 core process that help people to achieve psychological flexibility:
This involves letting your inner thoughts and beliefs to occur and not trying to ignore or suppress them. It allows you to face your thoughts and accepting them rather than repressing or altering them.
- Cognitive diffusion
Cognitive diffusion involves changing the way you react to thoughts and feelings. This makes you view thoughts simply as thoughts, without judging them and discarding their importance.
- Being present
ACT encourages you to be present in the situation and be mindful to your surroundings. It refers to letting your thoughts pass by and learn to shift your attention from internal thoughts and judgements.
- Self as context
Self as context is an idea that expands the concept of self and identity. He argues that people are more than thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Values encompass you in choosing your personal values in different domains and striving to those principles only for living.
- Committed actions
This involves changing your behaviour according to your values and goals. Incorporating small steps into the growth will lead to affirmative behaviour development.
ACT can help in treating many mental and physical conditions such as:
- Anxiety disorder
- Eating disorder
- Workplace stress
- Chronic pain
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Substance use disorder
Mindfulness and ACT
While teaching you the technique of ACT, therapist will teach to techniques of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a technique that allows you to remain in contact with the present situation. Mindfulness allows individuals to connect with their observing self. This is a separate part of the knowing but thinking self.