Acceptance Therapy and Commitment Therapy. ACT and the Therapy Processes for Acceptance and Mindfulness.

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Acceptance Therapy and Commitment Therapy. ACT and the Therapy Processes for Acceptance and Mindfulness.

Therapy Processes for Mental Health Disorders

Most philosophical worldviews identify human suffering as universal. Also, history can display that human beings have tremendous abilities to overcome insurmountable odds. When deducted, internal struggles, such as fear, apathy, pride, and shame, are the most significant barriers to achieving a fulfilling life. A committed movement in a valued direction enables individuals to strive over real pain, and an individual’s self-imposed byproduct created suffering.

  • What can we do when we are stuck and feel that we cannot move forward in our lives?
  • Does your mind continuously create hopeless outcomes?
  • What gets in the way of doing what is essential or being with who is important?
  • What is the cost of avoidance?

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT, pronounced as the word act) has the model to answer these questions and move people constricted by mental health issues, phobias, and substance use disorders on a path towards optimal living. ACT is a third wave therapeutic model of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and is based on the scientific philosophies of relational frame therapy (RFT) and functional contextualism.[1] Explained more simply, ACT uses acceptance and mindfulness processes, and commitment and behavior change processes to produce greater psychological flexibility. The desired outcome of ACT is not symptom reduction; it is about doing what works to get where you want to go. It is an ability to move in a direction guided by one’s values even while being in the midst of unwanted feelings, thoughts, memories, and sensations.

How Does Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Work?

Even though ACT’s focus does not try to reduce uncomfortable feelings, symptoms do often decrease in the pursuit of valued living. The ACT Matrix, along with the six core processes of ACT (Contacting the Present Moment; Values; Committed Action; Self as Perspective; Defusion; and Acceptance), are the “ACTion” part of ACT.

Six Core Processes of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

  • Contact with the present moment is a process of noticing whatever shows up at the moment–not just thoughts and feelings, but also bodily sensations, what you can perceive with your five senses, and whatever else may show up in the moment.
  • Values are highly individualized and refer to how we chose and hold important the people, things, and ways of being that matter to us in life.
  • Committed action is simply behavior enacted to move toward who or what is important to us, even in the presence of obstacles.
  • Self as perspective or self-as-context, also known by the observer self, is the ability to step back and take a flexible attitude on what you think, feel, perceive, and do.
  • Cognitive defusion is the ability to distance yourself from your thoughts and feelings, so they don’t necessarily control your behavior.
  • Acceptance is the ability, once you’ve gained some distance from sticky thoughts and feelings, to make space for them and do what is important for you to do. Acceptance promotes willingness.

How to Find Values and Mindfulness in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

With a combination of psychological flexibility and valued living, ACT allows individuals to engage in life, promoting a fullness through acceptance rather than incompleteness through avoidance. The psychological flexibility achieved through ACT core processes, visualization of the ACT matrix, and learning capabilities through metaphor work allows individuals to be in the present moment with full awareness, openness, and curiosity about their private experiences while taking committed actions toward their values. Higher psychological flexibility means being able to respond with various actions in the face of an adverse stimulus. This process enables people to get out of being stuck. Lower psychological flexibility, or psychological inflexibility, means reacting with a limited range of actions no matter what the consequences. This limited ability means being blocked by internal stimuli. Mindfulness, acceptance, defusion, contact with the present moment, self-as-context, and values are the tools that build a repertoire allowing for more space and time to respond rather than react. This toolbox, which creates psychological flexibility, is the anecdote to internal stimuli (thoughts, feelings, memories, and sensations) that make creative hopelessness.

  • Polk, Kevin, The Essential Guide to the ACT Matrix
  • Patricia Bach, Daniel Morgan, ACT in Practice: Case Conceptualization in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Polk, Kevin, The Essential Guide to the ACT Matrix
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