Many of us struggle to cope with difficult emotions, like anxiety and depression. We often push them away or try to deny their existence, but this only leaves us feeling even more overwhelmed.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) offers a unique approach to understanding our thoughts and feelings so that we can live meaningful and fulfilling lives. ACT helps us to create psychological flexibility and acceptance, so we can manage our emotions and learn to act with purpose.
Through a combination of mindfulness, values-based action, and learning to accept our thoughts and feelings, ACT helps us to reach our goals and find joy in life. By understanding the core principles of ACT, we can learn to manage our emotions and live a life of meaning and purpose.
What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?
ACT is a type of therapy used for improving psychological well-being. It focuses on accepting our internal experiences and acting in accordance with our values and goals. Its goal is to help people live a more meaningful and fulfilling life, in which they feel less stressed and more in control of their emotions.
ACT is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that focuses on the therapeutic relationship between the therapist and the client. It encourages people to understand the relationship between their thoughts, feelings, and actions. In this way, they can learn to respond to their internal experiences in a more healthy and beneficial way.
ACT is derived from the concept of psychological flexibility. This is the ability to move back and forth between our focused goals and our values, while also being open to what we are feeling in the present moment. ACT helps people to become aware of their thoughts and feelings. This way, they can accept their experiences and make choices based on what they truly want in their lives.
Core Principles of ACT
- Acceptance: Accepting that our thoughts and feelings are part of what makes us human and that we can’t control them. This can help us to stop fighting against our experiences and feel less overwhelmed by them.
- Cognitive defusion: Recognizing that thoughts are just “experiences in your head” rather than actual facts or truths. This can help us to step back from our thoughts and see them for what they are: just thoughts.
- Coming to terms with what is: Learning to accept what is happening rather than fighting against it. This can help us to feel more in control of our lives.
- Values-based action: Choosing to act in accordance with our values rather than our thoughts and feelings. This can help us to feel more empowered, even in difficult situations.
Benefits of ACT
- ACT helps people to understand their minds so that they can respond to their emotions in a more healthy and beneficial way.
- ACT helps people to accept their thoughts and feelings, so they can stop fighting against their experiences. This can relieve a lot of stress, which makes it easier to move forward in life.
- ACT promotes a flexible and empowered mind, so people can move back and forth between their goals and values while also being open to what they are feeling in the present moment.
- ACT helps people to break out of destructive cycles so that they can move forward in their lives.
Mindfulness in ACT
Mindfulness is being fully and completely aware of the present moment. It involves observing our thoughts and feelings as they are, and accepting them for what they are. Many people experience negative and distressing thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
By practicing mindfulness, we can become aware of these experiences and accept them rather than trying to push them away or ignore them. In ACT, mindfulness is used to help us become aware of our thoughts and feelings so that we can accept them. It can also help us to focus on the present moment rather than getting stuck in our thoughts.
To help you be mindful, try the following:
- Notice what you’re experiencing at the moment
- Observe your thoughts and feelings without trying to change or fix them
- Focus on your breath, as this can help you to become aware of your thoughts and feelings at the moment
- Focus on the 5 senses: what do you see, smell, hear, taste, and touch?
Acceptance of Thoughts and Feelings in ACT
Thoughts are simply the products of our minds. They are often very irrational and don’t reflect reality; they reflect what is going on in our minds. When we try to push away or ignore our thoughts, they can become even more distressing and difficult to deal with. Many people try to push their thoughts away because they don’t want to think about them.
In ACT, thoughts are neither good nor bad. They are just what goes through our minds. By accepting the thoughts that go through our minds, we can stop trying to push them away. This can reduce stress and feelings of overwhelm and make it easier to move forward with our lives. Feelings are often the first thing we notice when we experience an emotion. They can also be the last thing we notice. They are like a wave that starts in our bodies and then moves up to our minds.
In ACT, we try to notice the wave of feeling as early as possible before it reaches our minds. This way, we can see it for what it is and don’t let it take over our thoughts and actions. By accepting our feelings, we can learn to respond to them in a more healthy and beneficial way.
ACT for Healing and Growth
When we experience a significant psychological injury or trauma, we may develop negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves and our lives. This can make it difficult to move forward with our lives and reach our goals.
In ACT, we try to help people heal and move past their psychological injuries. We do this by helping people accept their thoughts and feelings while also moving towards their goals. This can help people process their psychological injuries and move past them.
ACT helps people to become aware of their thoughts and feelings, so they can accept them without trying to change or fix them. This can help people get in touch with what they really want in their lives. It also helps people to move towards their goals by choosing to act in accordance with their values rather than their thoughts and feelings.
ACT for Goal Setting
Many people set goals for their lives but aren’t sure how to make them happen. They may know what they want to achieve but feel stuck in their inability to move toward them.
In ACT, we help people set goals that they can move towards. We help them to accept their thoughts and feelings, so they can stop fighting against them and move towards their goals. We also help people to come to terms with what is, so they can focus on what they can control: moving towards their goals. By learning to set goals in line with our values and come to terms with what is, we can move towards the lives we really want.
Psychotherapy in North Kingstown
If you struggle with emotions like anxiety and depression, it’s time to get some help.
At South County Psychiatry, we specialize in many different forms of psychotherapies, including acceptance and commitment therapy. To schedule an appointment for a consultation with a qualified therapist, contact us today.