Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT therapy) is based on a psychological theory of human language. A 2015 review found that ACT techniques worked better than either a placebo or typical treatment for anxiety, depression, and addiction. Developed to address the challenges of mental health issues, ACT techniques focus on reducing avoidant coping styles.

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT therapy) is a type of psychotherapy designed to help people accept the difficulties that come with life. A form of mindfulness-based therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy proposes that a greater sense of individual well-being can be attained by overcoming negative thoughts and feelings. Moreover, ACT therapy reveals how language can trap people in futile cycles of undermining their own inner lives. Through both language and experiential exercises, clients learn how to make healthy contact with thoughts and feelings that have been avoided. Hence, the goal is to reframe negativity.

As part of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, ACT techniques focus on the acceptance of reactions through letting go of negative feelings. Thus, ACT therapy emphasizes the goal of being present. Through presence, a person can choose a valued direction and take positive action, fostering long-term coping skills.

Furthermore, ACT techniques developed in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy also include defusion. Based on acceptance theory, defusion involves recognizing negative thoughts and feelings for what they are in order to reduce their power over one’s behavior. Ultimately, the goal of defusion in ACT therapy is to help make a negative experience more manageable.

Sources: Psychology TodayAssociation for Contextual Behavioral ScienceUS National Library of Medicine (National Institutes of Health)

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