What is Acceptance & Commitment Therapy?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) gets it name from one of its core messages: accept what is out of your personal control, and commit to action that improves and enriches your life.
The aim of ACT is to maximise human potential for a rich, full and meaningful life and does the by:
- Teaching you psychological skills to deal with your painful thoughts and feelings effectively – in such a way that they have much less impact and influence over you (these are known as mindfulness skills).
- Helping you to clarify what is truly important and meaningful to you – i.e your values – then use that knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate you to change your life for the better.
The ACT View Of Mindfulness
Mindfullness is increasingly being recognised as a powerful therapeutic intervention for everything from work stress to depression – and also as an effective tool for increasing emotional intelligence. ACT is a powerful mindfulness-based therapy (and coaching model) which currently leads the field in terms of research, application and results.
Mindfulness is a mental state of awareness, focus and openness – which allows you to engage fully in what you are doing at any moment. In a state of mindfulness, difficult thoughts and feelings have much less impact and influence over you – so it is hugely useful for everything from full-blown psychiatric illness to enhancing athletic or business performance.
ACT breaks mindfulness skills down into 3 categories:
- Defusion- distancing from, and letting go of, unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and memories
- Acceptance: making room for painful feelings, urges and sensations, and allowing them to come and go without a struggle
- Contact with the present moment: engaging fully with here-and-now, with an attitude of openness and curiosity
These 3 skills require you to use an aspect of yourself for which no word exists in common everyday language. It is the part of you that is capable of awareness and attention. In ACT, we often call it the ‘observing self’. We can talk about ‘self’ in many ways, but in common everyday language we talk mainly about the ‘physical self’ – your body – and the ‘thinking self’ – your mind. The ‘observing self’ is the part of you that is able to observe both your physical self and your thinking self. A better term, is perhaps ‘pure awareness’ – because that’s all it is: just awareness, nothing else. It is the part of you that is aware of everything else: aware of every thought, every feeling, everything you see, hear, touch, taste, smell, and do.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a unique and creative approach to a change in behaviour which alters the very ground rules of most Western psychotherapy. It is a mindfulness-based, values-oriented behavioural therapy, that has many parallels to Buddhism, yet is not religious in any way; it is a modern scientific approach, firmly based on cutting-edge research into human behavioural psychology.
ACT with Compassion:
Builds on the above, while bringing more compassion and effectiveness to self critical and shame prone clients and is designed to provide awareness and supportive solutions for those clients currently stuck in unworkable patters of behaviours from a place of shame and self-criticism.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is proven effective in the treatment of an array of disorders, including addiction, depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, and more. Evidence shows that mindfulness and acceptance exercises help clients connect with the moment, uncover their true values, and commit to positive change. But did you know that compassion focused exercises can also greatly increase your psychological flexibility?
More and more, therapists are finding that the act of compassion-both towards oneself and towards others-can lead to greater emotional and physical well-being, increased distress tolerance, and a broader range of effective responses to stressful situations. One of the best advantages of compassion focused methods is how easily they can be integrated into an ACT approach.
I truly believe in this approach, so much so, I use it in both coaching and counselling. If this approach resonates with you, please reach out and contact me. I would love to work with you.