Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?
Developed by a committed scientific community and possessing a deep evidence-base, ACT aims to help you get unstuck and gain psychological flexibility to live life according to what matters most to you. Using a combination of mindfulness tools and self-compassion, working with a therapist trained in ACT will help you overcome painful thoughts and feelings and move towards a life of greater ease and fulfillment.
Unlike Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), ACT is not intended to eliminate or suppress thoughts and feelings that cause psychological suffering. ACT acknowledges that difficult emotions are part of life. In fact, as demonstrated by the success of the 24-hour news cycle, many of us are naturally drawn towards negative thoughts. Once we acknowledge that our tendency to fear the worst is not representative of reality, we can learn to tolerate and disregard thoughts that diminish our mood and productivity.
Although it can be difficult or even impossible to completely rid our lives of psychological distress, we can learn to keep it from interfering with our progress. At the Midtown Practice, together with your ACT therapist, you will learn to identify what matters most to you, and pursue a life based on your personal values instead of being unnecessarily encumbered by self-destructive thoughts. Your therapist will teach you how to stop arguing with reality, achieve calmness and pursue a life worth living.
A major tenant of ACT is the development of greater psychological flexibility. Individuals with psychological flexibility are able to experience their own emotions without allowing them to take control over their life and important decisions. Psychological flexibility is the ability to experience our emotions while adapting to fluctuating situations and balancing perspectives according to evolving circumstances. We can achieve psychological flexibility by making contact with the present moment, and gaining clarity on what brings true meaning, vitality and richness to our lives. Working with your therapist, you will learn to make thoughtful decisions without the need to escape or avoid painful and troubling thoughts, emotions and experiences. In this regard, ACT provides an antidote to psychological suffering.
ACT can help you learn to live a healthier, richer life with greater ease and comfort, and less psychological pain. It is learning to live with what is, accepting what is without appraisal or trying to change things. It is a skill that can be developed with acceptance, mindfulness exercises, values and committed action.
How does ACT work?
When you find yourself spinning on the merry-go-round of anxiety and fixate on things that are out of your control, the result is feelings of discontent and being stuck. ACT can help you get off the merry-go-round and learn to focus on what truly matters. It accomplishes this through the development of mindfulness skills, honing psychological flexibility, and identifying what you value most.
Traditionally, mindfulness suggests that much of human suffering arises when an individual’s focus is on fears of the future, regrets and concerns over the past. The goal is to commit to living intentionally in the present, on purpose and without judgment. Embracing the moment is a learned skill that is developed through simple exercises and practice. Your therapist will teach you mindfulness skills and how to incorporate them in your everyday life. With practice, you will be able to stop ruminating over things that are not under your control and achieve a level of ease and certainty which is the foundation for building a more fulfilling life.
Being mindful means learning to become aware of your thoughts and how they cause suffering. Once you become more familiar with your various thoughts and emotions, you will learn to distinguish those that are most helpful and disregard those that not of service. Soon you will find that you can disentangle from negative thoughts and emotions and find peace.
How is it difference than DBT and CBT?
ACT doesn’t try to change or stop undesirable thoughts and feelings. Rather, it is designed to free you from challenging feelings, emotions and thoughts without attempting to control your experience. Through the development of psychological flexibility and mindfulness skills, you will learn to act consistently with what you value most.
What conditions can benefit from ACT therapy?
ACT has been studied and found to be appropriate for a wide range of psychological conditions. It has also shown to be helpful in coping with psychological conditions within the context of medical illnesses. By 2030, it is estimated that 171 million Americans will be living with multiple chronic medical conditions, and 10-20% have comorbid major depression or anxiety disorders. It is well known that depression and anxiety adversely affect medical symptoms, quality of life, function and prognosis. ACT has been shown to help patients cope with their physical illnesses and lead more productive lives within the context of their medical conditions.
ACT is beneficial for these conditions:
- Sleep disorders
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
- Eating disorders
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Relationship difficulties
ACT is valuable for integrating diabetes self-management into daily life. It is also used for drug abuse treatment, chronic pain, smoking, prejudices, occupational stress, self-harming behaviors, OCD and epilepsy.
In conclusion, why choose ACT?
Together with your ACT therapist, you will learn to accept your anxiety, depression, or whatever challenges you are facing and commit to living in accordance with your personal values. You will learn to master these core processes of change as you build a more fulfilling life:
- Acceptance of distressing thoughts and feelings. Instead of avoiding or fighting these thoughts or reacting impulsively to what we think, we learn to base our actions on the situation with guidance from our own values and goals.
- Being in the NOW. Being present means being in contact with the NOW without judgment.
- Self as context. Learning to observe what you are thinking and feeling instead of acting impulsively on your emotions.
- Defusion. Learning to recognize that our thoughts are just words and to take a step back from our thoughts as opposed to being consumed by them.
- Values. Learning what you want from life and what is most meaningful to you.
- Committed Action. Commit to living life based on your chosen values and long-term goals, thereby creating greater fulfillment and ease.
Contact The Midtown Practice to learn more about ACT and how it can help you learn to create and live a rich and meaningful life accepting the pain that is inevitable with being human.
- Amsberg, S., Wijk, I., Livheim, F., Toft, E., Johansson, U. B., & Anderbro, T. (2018). Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for adult type 1 diabetes management: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. BMJ open, 8(11), e022234. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-022234
- Ost L. G. (2014). The efficacy of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Behavior research and therapy, 61, 105–121. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2014.07.018
- Twohig, M. P., & Levin, M. E. (2017). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a Treatment for Anxiety and Depression: A Review. The Psychiatric clinics of North America, 40(4), 751–770. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psc.2017.08.009
- Dindo, L., Van Liew, J. R., & Arch, J. J. (2017). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: A Transdiagnostic Behavioral Intervention for Mental Health and Medical Conditions. Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, 14(3), 546–553. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-017-0521-3