What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of therapy that has been shown to be very effective in combating OCD, anxiety, and depression. ACT is based on the idea that our thoughts and our feelings are not problematic, but our reactions to unwanted thoughts and feelings can cause undue distress. An easy example is OCD: many people have thoughts about germs that they are able to "brush off" or "let go of". But some people react to those thoughts by feeling compelled to clean and reduce their anxiety. It is those that choose to react to their thoughts that develop OCD. 

According to ACT, there are six processes that can be addressed therapeutically to help people have unwanted thoughts and feelings and move on with their lives in a way that is meaningful to them.

  • Acceptance: Allowing thoughts and feelings without trying to change them

  • Cognitive Defusion: Understanding that thoughts are thoughts and not necessarily reality

  • Mindfulness: Being present in this moment instead of traveling to the past or future. 

  • Self as Context: Understanding that your experiences are seen through your lens, they are not necessarily "true" or "real" as you experience them

  • Values: Understanding what is important in your life. For example: Is it more important to try something new or to stay safe from failure?

  • Committed Action: Using skills and knowledge to do what is important to you instead of what is important to your thoughts and feelings.

Taken together, the principals of ACT can help people understand and move on from OCD, anxiety, and depression. If you think that ACT may be helpful for you or a loved one, please contact me for a free 15-minute consultation.

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