What is ACT?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT, is a radical behavior therapy approach that is integrates multiple theoretical models (Cognitive-Behavioral, Humanistic, Existential, Gestalt, etc) with an emphasis on the importance of mindfulness and acceptance for reducing psychological suffering (Sommers-Flanagan, 2015). Note, the abbreviation is pronounced as the word and not as a set of initials; this is a conscious choice to evoke thoughts of action, as ACT also emphasizes taking meaningful action according to one’s values (Sommers-Flanagan, 2015).
Why is ACT radical?
The ACT model for therapy takes a different approach regarding perceived negative cognitions, or thoughts. You may be familiar with the medical model for psychology, which posits that mental health issues can be diagnosed as disorders, diseases, or pathology (Sommers-Flanagan, 2015). ACT therapists reject this notion. Instead, they believe that perpetuating this idea to clients can actually cause further harm, by creating rigid thinking (American Psychological Association, n.d.).
What is the Goal of ACT?
According to the American Psychological Association, the goal of ACT is to create flexibility in how we view our thoughts and actually change the relationship we have with our thoughts. First, accepting rather than avoiding them. This requires that we choose to be present with ourselves and examine what values are important to us. Once we have this awareness and self context, we can be empowered to take action—to set behavioral goals for change (American Psychological Association, n.d.).
If this sounds intriguing to you and you would like to learn more, please see the resources below.
How to Incorporate ACT in Your Own Life
There is a wealth of information available on how to utilize ACT in your own life. Below are
links to resources that may be helpful to get you started.
American Psychological Association (n.d.) Acceptance and commitment therapy. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/pubs/videos/4310860.aspx?tab=2
Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (n.d.). Act for the public. Retrieved from https://contextualscience.org/act_for_the_public
Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2015). Counseling and psychotherapy theories in context and practice (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.