Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy


A subset of clinical behaviour analysis and a type of psychotherapy is acceptance and commitment therapy. It is an empirically supported psychological intervention that increases psychological flexibility by combining behavioural and commitment techniques with acceptance and mindfulness techniques.

The following six fundamental mechanisms support psychological flexibility:

  1. Acceptance: Rather than attempting to suppress, ignore, or control your thoughts and feelings, acceptance entails accepting the whole spectrum of your feelings and thoughts.
  2. Cognitive Defusion: To lessen the negative impacts of disturbing thoughts and sensations, cognitive defusion entails separating oneself from them and altering your response to them. Cognitive defusion techniques include identifying your automatic response, singing a thought, and simply watching it without passing judgment.
  3. Being Present: Experiencing events clearly and directly might encourage behaviour change. Being present entails being conscious in the current moment and noticing your thoughts and feelings without passing judgment on them or attempting to change them.
  4. Self as Context: The concept of self as context aims to enlarge the idea of self and identity by suggesting that individuals are more than only their ideas, emotions, and experiences.
  5. Values: Choosing personal values in a range of areas and making an effort to live by them are all part of values. This contrasts with behaviours motivated, perhaps, by the need to stay out of trouble or live up to the expectations of others.
  6. Committed Action: Taking decisive action entails implementing adjustments that are consistent with your ideals and result in constructive change. Setting goals, being exposed to challenging ideas or situations, and developing new skills may all be part of this.
How It Operates:

ACT is based on the premise that trying to regulate unpleasant emotions or psychological experiences is ineffective because suppressing these feelings just makes them worse. ACT holds that being mindful, paying attention to one’s principles, and being committed to taking action are all worthwhile alternatives to attempting to alter one’s thought process. Eventually, individuals can alter their attitudes and emotional states by making behavioural changes while learning to embrace their psychological experiences.

What to Look for in a Commitment and Acceptance Therapist?

Seek a social worker, professional counsellor, licensed therapist, or another mental health practitioner with extra training in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). For ACT practitioners, there is no specific certification required. Peer counselling, workshops, and other training programs help people learn skills. Finding a therapist, you are comfortable with is just as vital as these credentials.

When Used ACT is useful in treating a wide range of psychological and medical issues. Among them are:

When you work with a therapist, you will acquire the skill of listening to the dialogue you have with yourself, particularly when it comes to traumatic experiences, troubled relationships, physical restrictions, or other difficulties. After that, you may determine whether an issue calls for quick attention and modification or whether it can—or needs to—be accepted as it is while you develop the necessary behavioural skills to alter the circumstances. The therapist may assist you in breaking the cycle of thoughts and actions that are causing you more issues in the long term, and you may examine what hasn’t worked for you in the past.

After you have faced and accepted your present circumstances, you can resolve to stop battling your emotions and your past and begin practising more positive and self-assured conduct that is in line with your own beliefs and objectives. The goal of ACT is to increase psychological adaptability. Emotional transparency and the capacity to modify your beliefs and actions so that they more closely reflect your ideals and objectives are examples of psychological flexibility.

How Well Does ACT Therapy Work?

ACT is a type of psychotherapy that is frequently referred to as “new wave” or “third wave.” A wide range of psychotherapies are collectively referred to as “third wave” treatments, and these include:

“Third-wave behavioural therapy approaches differ from traditional CBT methods because they emphasize acceptance and mindfulness-based strategies rather than cognitive restructuring which involves challenging and changing difficult thoughts and feelings. This means they focus more on helping people accept difficult emotions, developing a loving relationship with their emotions, and creating distance from troubling thoughts.

In the past, third-wave therapies were thought to be suitable for patients who did not respond well to earlier therapies, such as traditional CBT. It is now thought that, for certain people, a third-wave therapy option could make sense as a first-line treatment. According to recent beliefs, thoughts and feelings might become stronger if one tries to oppose or alter them. Therefore, ACT adopts a different strategy rather than pressing them as would be the case with standard CBT.

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With the guidance of ACT, individuals can alter their relationship with their minds and internal experiences to reduce the impact these have on their behaviour. We have greater freedom to choose our actions and to use our emotions as a compass to assist and guide our decisions the more willing we are to be present with uncomfortable ideas and feelings.

How to Commence:

ACT may be provided by a variety of mental health practitioners, such as social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, or mental health counsellors. If you would want to know more about this method, you might look for an experienced ACT practitioner or inquire about the training history of your treatment provider. Another option is to contact referral services like the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) or the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS).

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Free ACT tools are also available from the ACBS in the form of audio clips, films, and mindfulness activities. ACT sessions are typically interactive, with homework assigned after the session and psychological or mindfulness training exercises frequently included. It is crucial to do these exercises in order to enhance your psychological flexibility and acquire new skills as part of the ACT. During therapy, your therapist will also want to talk about your goals and values. This is an important component of treatment as well because your future behaviours will be guided by these values.


It entails training someone to embrace their feelings and ideas rather than attempting to suppress or control them. ACT is a useful technique for controlling negative thoughts. This method encourages people to act in accordance with their basic ideals while being aware of and accepting of their thinking. A form of mindful psychotherapy called acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT therapy) assists patients in accepting their thoughts and feelings without passing judgment and in maintaining present-moment awareness. It seeks to assist you in overcoming challenging emotions so you may focus on healing rather than lingering on the negative. Our relationship with our challenging thoughts and emotions needs to change in order for us to stop viewing them as “symptoms.” Rather, we come to understand them as brief, harmless psychological experiences that are uncomfortable but not dangerous.

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