What is Acceptance Commitment Therapy?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an empirically based therapeutic approach designed to develop psychological flexibility in facing the demands of life. Rather than focusing simply on the elimination of symptoms, the purpose of ACT is to help individuals create full, rich, and meaningful lives without needless suffering. The processes of change include learning to remain flexibly and purposefully in the present moment; keeping your thoughts and stories about yourself in perspective as just thoughts and stories; accepting with equanimity (and good humor) what life offers, including the inevitable pain that comes with living a human life; being free to decide what you want your life to be about; and committing yourself to doing the things that will shape your life around your hopes, dreams, and values. ACT is all about Valued Living with Less Struggle.
ACT’s Overall Goal: Valued living with less struggle
Creating and cultivating a life worth living by clarifying our values and goals and letting go of the habits that are holding us back.
- We get to choose our actions – where we go, what we do with our hands and feet, what comes out of our mouth.
- We have relatively little choice about the memories, feelings, or thoughts that show up in a situation.
- So, the most effective way to change our lives is to focus on changing our actions and learning new ways to deal with troubling memories, thoughts, and feelings.
I am free when:
- I can do something I don’t want to do because doing it is important.
- I can not do something I want to do because not doing it is important.
- I can make a choice to pursue a valued direction even when my mind is telling me I can’t do it or to do the opposite.
Areas of Focus
- Taking respectful care of ourselves
- Basic physical and psychological self care
- Awareness and personal self-knowledge
- Recognizing and letting go of ineffective patterns of behavior
- Living with our own internal experience – accepting what we cannot change
- Not taking what our mind says too seriously, when it’s not being helpful
- Willingly experiencing our feelings
- Living with other people – effectiveness in interpersonal relationships