Unpacking Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – Liberate Your Thoughts and Learn to Live in The Present Moment.

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?

The concept behind ACT (pronounced ‘act’) is encompassed by its name – the therapy process is all about accepting what you cannot control and committing to your values as you move forward in life.

As a society, we are led to believe that humans are naturally happy beings and that any psychological conditions, or negative feelings like loneliness, boredom, or low self-esteem, are not normal.

ACT turns this belief on its head and assumes that the way the human mind works will eventually lead to an internal struggle with unwanted thoughts and feelings – a process termed ‘experiential avoidance’. This essentially means that valuable time and energy is spent trying to avoid or get rid of these perceived negative thoughts and feelings.

ACT attempts to target experiential avoidance when it becomes harmful or affects your quality of life. It does this by helping you to become more aware of yourself and your thoughts, offering mindfulness-based therapy built on scientific, evidence-based research on human psychology.

What is the aim of ACT?

Simply put, the aim of ACT is to accept that you cannot control your thoughts and feelings, whilst emphasising the importance of living in the present moment.

ACT enables you to create a meaningful life and provides you with mindfulness techniques to accept any pain or negativity that might occur. This negativity can occur through thoughts, feelings, urges and memories and is likened to a barrier, blocking you from your full potential.

Mindfulness and ACT

Mindfulness is the process of moving away from overthinking and instead, truly living in the present moment – the here-and-now – by fully engaging in all of the life experiences you may come across, good and bad.

By effectively practising mindfulness you learn to relinquish control of your thoughts, recognise they are present and accept them as they are. This acceptance helps you to separate yourself from your thoughts and in doing so, you are able to reduce the impact that any painful, upsetting or traumatic feelings and memories have on your life.

What are the main processes of ACT?

There are six main processes in ACT which help you along this journey:

  • The Present Moment: This is where you focus on the here-and-now, engaging completely in anything you are doing.
  • Diffusion: In this process, you begin to understand that your thoughts, feelings and memories are no more than words, language and images in your mind, rather than scary truths. 
  • Acceptance: This involves allowing space for anything negative or unpleasant that goes through your mind, by letting the thoughts arrive and then leave on their own accord, without struggle or unnecessary attention.
  • The Present Moment: This is where you focus on the here-and-now, engaging completely in anything you are doing.
  • The Observing Self: From here you attempt to see yourself as separate from your unwanted thoughts and feelings, and come to the understanding that they do not define you.
  • Values: Determining who you want to be and what is important to you as you move forward in life.
  • Committed Action: Set yourself achievable goals based on your values and commit to them.

How do I know if ACT is for me?

ACT has been found to help a diverse range of conditions such as:

  • Anger 
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Drinking too much
  • Eating disorders
  • Fear of rejection
  • Grief
  • Negative thoughts
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Relationships
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Terminal illness
  • Traumatic memories

How will ACT help me?

ACT does not attempt to discard unwanted feelings, memories or old trauma, instead, it focuses on the present moment and gaining clarity about what you want, allowing you to create a full and meaningful life. This is a liberating and fulfilling type of therapy helping you to move forward in life with purpose.

ACT at Haven Psychology

We have a number of experienced and compassionate psychologists at Haven Psychology who can offer Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

If you would like to enquire about an appointment or have any further questions about the ACT process, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team. We care because you matter.

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