Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on helping individuals increase psychological flexibility and live a more meaningful life.
Developed in the 1980s by Steven C. Hayes, ACT is based on the idea that psychological suffering is caused by an inability to accept certain thoughts, emotions, and sensations, and by becoming too attached to certain thoughts or behaviors.
ACT helps individuals to let go of unhelpful thoughts and behaviors and focus on what is truly important to them. The therapy is based on the idea that by accepting difficult thoughts and emotions, and by committing to taking action toward living a more meaningful life, individuals can experience less psychological suffering.
ACT is based on six core principles: acceptance, cognitive defusion, contact with the present moment, self-as-context, values, and committed action.
- Acceptance: ACT encourages individuals to accept thoughts and emotions that cause distress, rather than trying to suppress them or change them. By accepting these thoughts and emotions, individuals can learn to live with them and focus on what is truly important to them.
- Cognitive defusion: ACT teaches individuals to distance themselves from their thoughts and to see them as mental events, rather than facts. By doing so, individuals can reduce the power that their thoughts have over them.
- Contact with the present moment: ACT encourages individuals to focus on the present moment, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. By staying present, individuals can make more mindful and intentional decisions.
- Self-as-context: ACT helps individuals to see themselves as separate from their thoughts and emotions. This allows individuals to have a more objective view of their experiences, and to make more intentional decisions.
- Values: ACT helps individuals to identify what is truly important to them and to make decisions that align with their values.
- Committed action: ACT encourages individuals to take action towards living a more meaningful life, by setting goals that align with their values and taking steps to achieve those goals.
ACT is a relatively new approach compared to the others but it is gaining popularity among many therapists/counsellors due to its focus on acceptance and mindfulness. It has been proven to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic pain. It has also been shown to be effective in treating addiction and substance abuse.
If you’re interested in learning more about ACT or considering it as an option for treatment, it’s important to speak with a qualified counsellor who is trained in this approach.