Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) gets it name from one of its core messages: accept what is out of your personal control, and commit to action that improves and enriches your life.
The aim of ACT is to maximise human potential for a rich, full and meaningful life. ACT (which is pronounced as the word ‘act’, not as the initials) does this by:

a) teaching you psychological skills to deal with your painful thoughts and feelings effectively – in such a way that they have much less impact and influence over you (these are known as mindfulness skills).

b) helping you to clarify what is truly important and meaningful to you – i.e your values – then use that knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate you to change your life for the better.

ACT breaks mindfulness skills down into 3 categories:
1) defusion: distancing from, and letting go of, unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and memories
2) acceptance: making room for painful feelings, urges and sensations, and allowing them to come and go without a struggle
3) contact with the present moment: engaging fully with your here-and-now experience, with an attitude of openness and curiosity

These 3 skills require you to use an aspect of yourself for which no word exists in common everyday language. It is the part of you that is capable of awareness and attention. In ACT, we often call it the ‘observing self’. We can talk about ‘self’ in many ways, but in common everyday language we talk mainly about the ‘physical self’ – your body – and the ‘thinking self’ – your mind. The ‘observing self’ is the part of you that is able to observe both your physical self and your thinking self. A better term, in my opinion, is ‘pure awareness’ – because that’s all it is: just awareness, nothing else. It is the part of you that is aware of everything else: aware of every thought, every feeling, everything you see, hear, touch, taste, smell, and do.
Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a unique and creative approach to a change in behaviour which alters the very ground rules of most Western psychotherapy. It is a mindfulness-based, values-oriented behavioural therapy, that has many parallels to Buddhism, yet is not religious in any way; it is a modern scientific approach, firmly based on cutting-edge research into human behavioural psychology.

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy does this by:

  • teaching you psychological skills to deal with your painful thoughts and feelings effectively – in such a way that they have much less impact and influence over you. These are known as mindfulness skills.
  • helping you to clarify what is truly important and meaningful to you – i.e. your values – then use that knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate you to change you life for the better.

The six core principles of developing psychological flexibility are:

  • defusion
  • acceptance
  • contact with the present moment
  • the observing self
  • values
  • committed action

Our psychologists Margaret Mitchell offers ACT to help you overcome the obstacles you’re facing.