What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Acceptance: Acceptance strategies are designed to help a person in having a welcoming, open attitude toward their feelings, outside events, and thoughts. Accepting one’s emotions as they are rather than trying to change or control them is the aim of acceptance-based strategies. 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of mindful psychotherapy. It can assist you in remaining present-oriented and accepting your thoughts and feelings without passing judgment. It aims to assist you in overcoming challenging emotions so you can focus on healing as opposed to dwelling on the bad. You’ll learn a variety of coping skills from a qualified professional that are specific to your needs and that you can apply to difficult situations you may face in the future. A person dealing with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues can benefit from ACT. Additionally, it is a supported treatment for psychosis, persistent pain, and OCD.

How does Acceptance and Commitment Therapy work?

A person can learn flexible thinking from an ACT practitioner through a variety of exercises. These exercises assist people in improving the six fundamental abilities required for the ACT, which include:

  1. Intentionally focusing on the here and now while paying attention to thoughts, feelings, sensations, and actions
  2. Keeping a balanced view of one’s thoughts and feelings to prevent painful or difficult ones from setting off avoidance behaviours, which are actions one takes to avoid them
  3. Identifying a person’s core values and objectives   
  4. Committing to living in accordance with those fundamental principles and objectives
  5. Accepting the unwelcome emotions that frequently accompany difficult actions, especially those that are in accordance with one’s core values
  6. Putting cognitive diffusion into practice, which entails taking a step back from disruptive thoughts that conflict with one’s values and learning to see them as merely thoughts rather than unquestionable truths

A person’s highest priorities in life, such as honesty, loyalty, and compassion, are referred to as their “core” or “essential” values. Depending on what matters to each individual, these differ from person to person. 

What Is the Purpose of Commitment and Acceptance Therapy?

The goal of ACT therapy is to stop obsessive thought patterns and unneeded emotional wallowing. A number of techniques from behavioural analysis, mindfulness training, cognitive dissonance, acceptance and commitment methods, to name a few, are used in acceptance and commitment therapy. 

With a qualified therapist’s guidance, you can learn a variety of coping techniques and situation-specific skills. You can use these to get through your current difficulties, but you can also use them to manage difficult situations and stay in the present moment throughout your life.

Because this therapy encourages people to stay in the present, it can be helpful for those who, for instance, suffer from traumatic flashbacks or generalized anxiety brought on by routine activities. ACT offers the direction required for clients to stop struggling with their thoughts because it is challenging to navigate life without mentally existing in the here and now.

Through ACT, you can improve your overall well-being by learning a new behaviour and altering your coping mechanisms. Your life, the lives of those around you and your relationships may all benefit from this.

The Benefits of ACT

ACT is a transdiagnostic therapy, which means that almost any mental health issue can benefit from its principles. ACT is frequently used by mental health professionals to help treat:

Treatment for substance use disorder (SUD), chronic stress, and anxiety lack of compliance to your treatment plan or difficulty adhering to it as directed.

  1. Stress and anxiety

Even if you struggle with social anxiety, you might still want to establish deep relationships. In that case, you might work on developing your ability to initiate conversations or interact more naturally despite rejection or judgmental fears. Although it might occur naturally as a result of exposing yourself to more social situations, ACT doesn’t focus on anxiety reduction as a therapy goal. The objective is to create the life you want, which in this case might be one with more emotional closeness and social connection.

Because you understand that the situation is only temporary until you gain the experience to find a better job, ACT can help you learn to accept those feelings. In addition, you might decide to set objectives that are more in line with your values of financial stability and a fulfilling career, such as asking for a raise or applying for three new jobs each month.

  1. Depression

According to ACT theory, even if your actions don’t always make you feel happy, they can still add significance and meaning to your life. To put it another way, you don’t have to wait for your depressive symptoms to subside before starting the things you want to do.

ACT can assist you in separating yourself from thoughts of helplessness, shame, and regret by assisting you in identifying ways to live out your values as opposed to your current emotions.

  1. Substance use Disorder

It’s not necessary to use drugs in order to feel drunk. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), for example, focuses on educating patients on how to identify and avoid craving triggers. However, ACT helps you:

  • Consider how you may have abused substances to avoid unpleasant or upsetting internal experiences. 
  • Investigate how your ability to lead a meaningful or purpose-driven life is affected by your drug use.
  • Learn to tolerate and accept your emotional pain without trying to numb or escape it.

The essential skills of compassion, acceptance, empathy, respect, and the capacity to maintain psychological presence even in the face of intense emotions are all developed by therapists through ACT training.

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