Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based treatment that derives its name from what is at the very core of its function: to accept and commit.
Instead of pushing away or fighting with your unpleasant emotions, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy challenges you to focus on accepting them and more clearly understand why they exist. By doing this, you can more effectively address those issues that are at the root of your addiction or mental health disorder and learn to cope with your emotions in healthier ways.
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How Does ACT Work?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy helps you in your recovery in the following ways:
- Acceptance. ACT helps you learn the concept of acceptance and flexibility. With this skill, you can learn to work through your unpleasant emotions rather than resist them.
- Emotional distancing. This encourages you to take stock of your emotions in a more objective manner instead of letting them consume you.
- Presence. This is about living in the moment, being aware of what is happening in the present, and practicing controlling thoughts and worries about the past and the future.
- Self-perspective. This asks you to focus on a state of constant mindfulness.
- Identifying your personal values. This principle challenges you to identify your personal values and what is important to you in order to live a healthier life.
- Commitment. This is your commitment to yourself to work toward embodying the values you have listed as meaningful to you.
A simple example of how Acceptance and Commitment Therapy works can be as elementary as changing one word in the story you are telling yourself. Imagine you are struggling with anxiety in anticipation of a social event. You might think to yourself, “I want to go to the conference, but I’m too anxious to meet colleagues I’ve only spoken with on the phone.”
Instead, ACT asks you to adjust your mindset, suggesting that you think of this fear in terms of “I want to go to the conference AND I’m anxious to meet my colleagues.” Just one small verbal shift can lead to a new outlook on the situation.
ACT asks you to see the situation in a more objective way, giving you the tools to accept what is happening in the present moment and work with what cannot be changed by adjusting what is possible to change; namely, your perspective.
What Is the Evidence Behind ACT?
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) recognizes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as an evidence-based treatment. ACT, which was developed in the late 80s by Steven C. Hayes, PhD, has been the subject of several randomized studies over the past few decades.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is accepted by the American Psychological Association as a valid part of treatment for a variety of mental health disorders, including anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), severe depression, impulsivity, eating disorders, and substance abuse.
ACT at Clearview Treatment Programs
Clearview Treatment Programs incorporates Acceptance and Commitment Therapy throughout our residential treatment programs, day treatment, and outpatient treatment programs. In individual and group therapy sessions, our trained ACT therapists can help you adjust your negative thought processes, emotions, and possibly damaging behaviors in order to live a healthier and more productive life.