Developed from traditional behavioural therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an action-oriented form of psychotherapy.
Individuals learn to face some of their more difficult inner emotions and accept that deeper feelings may be an appropriate response to certain situations. It encourages people to embrace all their thoughts and feelings rather than feel guilty or ignore them. ACT combines mindfulness exercises with self-acceptance and behavioural change strategies. Individuals embrace accepting what is out of their control while focusing on creating positive actions and steps to enrich their lives.
One of the goals of ACT behavioural therapy is to develop and expand psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility includes emotional openness and the ability to adapt your thoughts and behaviors to better align with your personal values and goals.
6 Core Processes of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
There are 6 core processes of ACT and a therapist will guide clients through them while developing psychological flexibility.
Acceptance, a fundamental core process in ACT, involves embracing your thoughts and emotions without judgment or avoidance. It allows you to make space for uncomfortable feelings, paving the way for personal growth and change.
Cognitive Defusion is the process of separating from your thoughts and gaining perspective. It enables you to recognize that thoughts are mental events, not absolute truths. By defusing negative or unhelpful thinking patterns, you can better respond to life’s challenges.
Being Present focuses on mindful awareness of the current moment. It encourages you to engage fully in your experiences and values through contact with the present moment, rather than getting caught in the past or future. By staying present, you can enhance your well-being and connection to the world around you.
Values represent what truly matters to you, your guiding principles in life. ACT aims to help you clarify your values, providing direction and purpose. By aligning your actions with your values, you can live a more authentic and fulfilling life.
Self as Context
Self as Context is about recognizing that you are not defined by your thoughts, emotions, or experiences. Instead, you are the context in which these occur. This shift in perspective fosters self-awareness and flexibility, allowing you to connect with your core values and take meaningful actions.
Committed Action is the practical culmination of the other core processes. It involves setting goals that align with your values and taking steps to achieve them. By committing to purposeful actions, you can create positive changes in your life.
When to use Acceptance Therapy
ACT Psychotherapy can be used to treat many mental conditions. ACT Counselling was developed by Psychologist Steven C. Hayes, PhD in response to some of his personal struggles. Some of the common reasons to treat with acceptance therapy include:
ACT for Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders
Acceptance and commitment coaching provides practical strategies for managing anxiety. It emphasizes acceptance of anxious thoughts and feelings and promotes mindful living. By identifying personal values and committing to actions aligned with those values, individuals can reduce anxiety’s impact and reclaim a sense of control over their lives.
ACT for Depression
ACT is an effective approach for battling depression. It encourages individuals to accept their emotions and thoughts without judgment, and then to commit to actions that enrich their lives. By aligning actions with personal values and increasing psychological flexibility, ACT offers a path towards a more meaningful and fulfilling existence, even in the presence of depression.
ACT for Chronic Pain
ACT is a powerful tool for chronic pain management. It helps individuals detach from the suffering caused by pain, enhancing their psychological flexibility. By learning to focus on values-driven actions rather than pain, individuals can improve their quality of life and achieve lasting relief.
ACT Therapy for Grief
Grief is a complex and deeply personal experience, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) offers a compassionate and effective approach to navigating it. ACT for grief encourages individuals to accept the pain of loss while promoting values-based actions that honor the memory of the departed.
ACT for OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) offers a transformative approach for managing OCD. By fostering acceptance of intrusive thoughts and emotions and encouraging commitment to values-based actions, ACT empowers individuals to regain control over their lives, reducing the grip of OCD and promoting a richer, more fulfilling life.
ACT for Eating Disorders
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) provides valuable support for individuals struggling with eating disorders. It emphasizes acceptance of uncomfortable thoughts and feelings related to food and body image and helps individuals commit to actions that lead to a healthier relationship with food and self. By fostering mental agility, ACT enables those with eating disorders to develop resilience and self-compassion, facilitating long-term recovery.
ACT for Substance Use Disorders
ACT is a promising approach for overcoming substance use disorders. It focuses on accepting cravings and uncomfortable emotions while committing to a life free from addiction. ACT helps individuals align their actions with their values, building resilience to triggers and cravings. It empowers them to take steps towards sobriety and long-term well-being.
ACT for General and Workplace Stress
ACT equips individuals with the tools to effectively manage general and workplace stress. Promoting acceptance of stressors and cultivating mindfulness helps individuals commit to actions aligned with their values. Whether it’s reducing work-related tension or addressing general life stressors, ACT enables individuals to build resilience and create a more balanced and fulfilling life.
Booking Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Toronto and London, ON
We have Registered Social Workers and Psychotherapists who use the ACT approach. If you’re interested in meeting with one of our therapists, you can book online or contact our office. We offer this therapy at both our Toronto, ON, and London, ON locations.
We also offer appointments for virtual ACT for Ontario residents. We have therapists who are accepting clients to meet virtually. This can be preferable for those that live in remote areas or that don’t want to travel to one of our offices. If you’re interested in online ACT, you can book online or contact our office.