Since the late 1990s, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), has been shown to be an effective treatment for workplace stress, test anxiety, social anxiety disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and psychosis. Clients with other medical conditions such as chronic pain, substance abuse, and diabetes have benefited from ACT as well.
ACT has shown to produce positive results for those individuals who are seeking long-term behavioral changes. Natalie Stainback is experienced with ACT in the surrounding Charlotte, NC area.
What is Acceptance Commitment Therapy?
Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of therapy that helps patients accept what is outside of their control and commit to actions that improve their lives. In ACT, patients gain acceptance of what is causing their suffering. They understand that suffering is a natural and inevitable human condition. Our instinct is to control our experiences and feelings, but in ACT we learn to accept our feelings and move into mindfulness strategies that change behaviors.
The Goal of ACT
The goal of Acceptance Commitment Therapy is to be able to enter the present moment more fully and either change or continue behavior that is directed to values. This is called “psychological flexibility” and is established through six core ACT processes.
Six Core Processes of ACT
There are six core processes in ACT that guide patients through therapy and provide a framework for developing behavioral changes:
- Cognitive defusion
- Being present
- Self as context
- Committed action
Instead of thinking about negative experiences, acceptance allows those experiences to exist without trying to change or deny them. Acceptance is not a goal of ACT but rather a way of encouraging action that leads to positive change.
Cognitive defusion includes techniques that are intended to change how you react to thoughts and feelings. Instead of limiting exposure to negative experiences, ACT encourages you to face those experiences and develop an ability to fixate less on them.
This means to be aware of the present moment without judgment on the experience. Being present involves experiencing what is happening without trying to predict or change the experience.
Self as Context
Self as context is the notion that an individual is more than the current experience, instead of being just the sum of experiences, thoughts, or emotions.
In ACT, values are the qualities that an individual chooses to work towards in any given moment. We all hold values that guide us. ACT gives tools that help in living your life according to the values you hold close.
Patients in ACT commit to actions that assist in long-term goals and enable living a life consistent with their values. This step is integral in making positive behavior changes based on the awareness of how a given behavior affects us.
Acceptance Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a large part of Acceptance Commitment Therapy. Mindfulness is a mental state of awareness, openness, and focus. It allows you to engage fully in what you are doing at any moment. When you are in a state of mindfulness, negative thoughts and feelings have much less impact and influence. ACT provides a variety of tools to learn mindfulness skills.
ACT breaks down mindfulness skills into three categories:
- Defusion – Letting go of unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, and memories
- Acceptance – Making space for painful feelings, urges, and sensations while allowing them to come and go without an internal struggle against them
- Being in the present – Engaging fully with the here and now, combined with an attitude of openness and curiosity
Learn How Acceptance Commitment Therapy in the Charlotte, Pineville NC Area Can Help You
Contact Natalie Stainback if you would like to learn more about ACT and how it may help you. Call (704) 823-6009 or fill out this form below.