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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?

ACT is a relatively new concept in the field of psychotherapy and is one of the therapy types offered by Fresh Mind Therapy complimentary to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

The goal of ACT is to promote healthy behaviour in the face of challenging situations. Often, when personally triggering events occur, we attempt to control or avoid the painful emotions attached to that event. Unfortunately however, rather than saving us from negative sensation, this encourages damaging and isolating behaviour which goes on to affect our relationships and self-esteem long-term. Therefore ACT is less concerned with eliminating unwanted thoughts, and more concerned with cultivating psychological flexibility and acceptance. The ACT model predicts that people are most effective when able to:

  • Quickly accept automatic thoughts, sensations and urges
  • Naturally evaluate their thinking and disarm triggers e.g. observe thoughts without believing them or following their signal
  • Experience themselves as a continuous, stable observer of their own psychological experiences
  • Attend to the present moment with self-awareness
  • Clearly articulate their personal values
  • Engage in authentic action e.g. participating in activities consistent with personal values, even when psychologically challenged

How does this help me with my issues?

ACT is based on the idea that, generally, trying to rid ourselves of pain and distress only increases it, and can turn it into something traumatic.

By accepting your experience and learning to make room for painful feelings, thoughts and sensations, you can be empowered to overcome your issues.

What kinds of issues does ACT best help with?

PTSD: ACT is considered a particularly effective treatment for those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD link).

It promotes moving forward through the acceptance of a traumatic event, rather than attempting to change the feelings surrounding it

Depression and Anxiety: Act is found to be effective in treating depression and anxiety symptoms as clients gain the skills to reframe and accept their presenting issues and develop greater psychological flexibility

Chronic Pain: It is also commonly used to treat chronic pain through helping individuals to accept their pain and therefore be able to take the appropriate action to deal with it

What happens in a typical ACT session?

During ACT sessions, we teach you three lasting behavioural practises you can use both in and outside of the therapy room:

  • Mindfulness – Exercises to practise paying attention to the present experience and to learn to accept thoughts and feelings empathetically and without judgement
  • Acceptance – Allowing difficult feelings and memories to be present without a negative urge to control or avoid them
  • Commitment – Recognition of the values that nurture and support you and a subsequent commitment to a desired behavioural change

How does ACT differ from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

If CBT is about challenging distressing thoughts and behaviours, in ACT, the thoughts are first accepted as feelings in their own right and then neutralised using a variety of techniques which may include mindfulness, acceptance and commitment.

More about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

ACT is a relatively new form of psychotherapy based on Hayes’s relational frame theory which was pioneered in the mid 1990s and developed out of behavioural analysis and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT link).

ACT works with the notion that pain and suffering are a normal and even healthy part of our human experience. Using this approach, we can therefore teach the client to notice, accept and embrace all of their experiences, whether positive or negative and to respond to them in a healthy way.

Booking an appointment

If you would like an appointment with one of our therapists in Central London please contact Fresh Mind Therapy.