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Understanding what ACT Stands for in Addiction Recovery

ACT stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and it developed as an offshoot of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). An ACT therapist is mostly interested in using mindfulness and acceptance to make room for living in line with one’s values. In doing this, rather than focusing on avoiding pain at all costs, people can build what ACT calls “psychological flexibility” – or the ability to respond effectively and adaptively to the challenges that come our way.

ACT therapy might use exercises or metaphors to help people to see things in a new light, so that they can have more choices. While CBT focuses on challenging distorted believes, ACT can help us to get to the place where our thoughts and beliefs lose their power over us, so that we can direct our lives rather than the “thinking self” inside of us.

ACT can help with addiction and substance use by identifying how substances are used to ineffectively escape discomfort, to identify meaning in life, set goals, and become more accepting of the present moment so that things like emotions and cravings do not have to be the ones that are in charge.

Kirsten Helgager, PsyD
Psychologist
AToN Center  888-535-1516