Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Unpleasant or negative thoughts and feelings are a natural part of life and it’s only human nature that a person would try to do whatever they could to avoid them. Unfortunately, when you try to control or suppress your unwanted emotions, it can make things worse and even lead to problematic behaviors.
Acceptance and Commitment therapy, also known as ACT, is a type of psychotherapy similar to Cognitive Behavioral therapy that encourages people to embrace their innermost thoughts and feelings — even those that are difficult — in order to come to a place of acceptance where they can be at peace knowing that what they’re feeling is just part of the normal human experience.
At Blair Wellness Group, we specialize in a variety of therapeutic modalities and evidence-based treatment approaches designed to meet the individual needs of each of our clients. Acceptance and Commitment therapy is just one of the tools we use to help those who struggle with anxiety from past trauma, problematic relationships, depression, addiction, and more. Through self-acceptance and greater flexibility in their way of thinking, clients are better equipped to face their challenges head-on rather than avoid them or engage in maladaptive coping behaviors. If you would like to learn more or have been searching for an anxiety psychologist, we encourage you to contact us to schedule an appointment.
Many people see unwanted emotions as problems that either need to be avoided or fixed. However, according to the theory behind ACT, this will only make matters worse. Negative sensations and emotions linked to anxiety, depression, or physical pain are inevitable and essential parts of being human. The goal of ACT is to teach individuals that greater fulfillment can be achieved when you learn to alter your perspective and accept the things you cannot change.
Through the practice of mindfulness and a greater commitment to your values, it becomes easier to accept the challenges and hardships that come your way. Time and effort are no longer spent dwelling on the past or the difficulties of the present, instead it is focused on values-based actions that support greater wellbeing and happiness.
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Six Core Processes of ACT
The primary goal of ACT is to increase psychological flexibility through mindfulness and acceptance processes. This allows a person to be more present in the moment and behave in ways that are aligned with personal goals and values. To accomplish this higher level of psychological flexibility, Acceptance and Commitment therapy relies on six core processes.
Contrary to popular belief, acceptance isn’t about agreeing with or being okay with what you’re experiencing, but rather it’s a mindset in which you allow unpleasant emotions to occur instead of always trying to avoid them. In other words, you’re accepting of the fact that you may have anxiety or pain in your life and therefore you won’t go out of your way to avoid it or miss out on other positive experiences because of it.
The concept of cognitive defusion means that you can see your thoughts from a different perspective and prevent words (even if they are just in your own mind) from influencing your behavior. People who struggle with anxiety, depression, and eating disorders can benefit from cognitive defusion as it shows them how to acknowledge their thoughts without getting completely caught up in them.
Being Present in the Moment
Mindfulness is another way to describe being present in the moment. A core concept in ACT, mindfulness teaches people how to be fully engaged in everything they do. This includes allowing yourself to feel painful thoughts and feelings instead of trying to control or repress them. While it might seem counterintuitive, acknowledging what you’re feeling frees yourself from fearing those unwanted thoughts and emotions thereby lessening the impact they have on your life.
Self as Context
The concept of self as context involves being aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences without becoming attached to them. People simply become an observer of their own selves. In other words, it’s possible to step back and observe what is happening within you, and when you do, the unwanted emotions and sensations you feel no longer control your actions.
Values are the fundamental beliefs that guide or motivate your actions. They reflect what you care about most and help steer your behaviors. Unlike goals which are defined by a particular time frame, values have no limit and therefore drive past, present, and future actions. With respect to Acceptance and Commitment therapy, individuals learn to identify the things that give their life meaning so they can focus their behavior in a way that is more value-based instead of one that is driven by fear or avoidance.
Choosing effective actions and behaviors that are in line with established values is the key to achieving a rich and fulfilling life. Although values-guided action is not without its ups and downs — there will still be unwanted or painful thoughts and sensations to experience, but committed action means you are consistently making a conscious decision to move in a direction that offers greater meaning.
Conditions Helped By Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
ACT has been shown to be very effective for treating a wide variety of physical and psychological conditions by helping people stay in the moment and practice values-based action even in the midst of painful or unpleasant thoughts and feelings. This is a key factor in building resilience. Instead of running away or avoiding difficult experiences, people learn to accept them and learn from them. Some of the areas where ACT is particularly useful are in treating anxiety, depression, eating disorders, chronic pain, substance abuse, and stress.
Contact Blair Wellness Group to Learn More
If you’ve been searching for an anxiety psychologist, or you’ve been struggling with other challenges that could benefit from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, we encourage you to give us a call. At Blair Wellness Group, we specialize in treating a variety of psychological disorders including anxiety, addiction, depression, eating disorders, and more. Contact our Beverly Hills office at 310.999.4996 to schedule an appointment.
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Discover effective solutions for addiction at Blair Wellness Group today. Call us at 310.999.4996 to schedule an appointment. We welcome patients from Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Irvine, Newport Beach, and the surrounding areas.
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