ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?

 

One of the therapeutic approaches we often use in our work with clients is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on cultivating psychological flexibility and has been identified as an effective treatment for addressing anxiety, depression, and a range of other difficulties. Over time, ACT can help you: (1) relate to difficult thoughts & feelings in more helpful ways, (2) increase awareness and connection to the present moment, and (3) continually take actions that move you towards what is important to you. Through ACT, we will also aim to develop a greater awareness of consistent themes that show up across your thoughts, self-stories, and behavioral patterns. Gaining a clearer understanding of these patterns - and how they function for you - can be a valuable step in helping you to develop new patterns of behavior that better serve you in your life.

 

We have included information on some of the core processes of ACT below to help you explore if ACT might be a good fit for you.

Do you find it difficult to stay present in life because your mind is often getting pulled into worries, rumination, or other things outside of the here and now? 

Much of our suffering comes from disconnecting with what is 'right here, right now.' Instead, our minds are often time-hopping - replaying or ruminating on something that has already occurred or constructing future scenarios that we fear could someday unfold. When our thoughts and feelings hook us in unhelpful ways, we miss the opportunity to be with the present moment and often find ourselves in a place of suffering.

 

In our work together, we will practice mindfulness skills: noticing when we’ve been pulled out of the present moment in unhelpful ways and harnessing our ability to choose to return to the here-and-now. While it sounds simple, this takes practice, yet it can have a powerful influence on freeing you from suffering and allowing you to more fully connect with and enjoy what is in front of you.

Do you find yourself fighting painful thoughts and feelings that don't seem totally under your control, and often only feeling more stuck as a result?

Much of our suffering comes from struggling with the difficult thoughts and feelings that we all experience at times – such as fear, sadness, self-doubt, and guilt. We often don't like these uncomfortable experiences, so we try to push them away or layer judgments, evaluations, and resistance on top, further intensifying our suffering. We may put great effort in fighting against or trying to control things that can't be truly controlled (e.g., other people, situations, and even our own thoughts and feelings).

In our work together, we will practice opening up to difficult thoughts and feelings with more willingness, flexibility, and self-compassion, and noticing when emotions get in the 'driver's seat' and start dictating our actions. Learning new ways to relate to difficult thoughts and feelings can have a tremendous impact on lessening the degree to which they hold the power to get in the way of living your life more fully.

Do you put off doing the things you care about, or spend time on things that don't truly matter to you, because you feel you "should" or to stay in your comfort zone? 

Much of our suffering comes from losing touch with what matters to us in life. Alternatively, we may be acutely aware of what we value but find ourselves stuck and unable to engage in actions that align with those values. We may fall into behavior patterns that pull us away from what we care about, through excessive avoidance, procrastination, or mindless activities that provide a short-term fix but don't enrich our lives in the long term.

In our work together, we will explore and reflect on the person you want to be, as well as the things that are important to you and bring your life a sense of vitality and purpose. We will use these insights as our guide in helping you take actions that move you towards a life that feels personally meaningful, while identifying how to overcome obstacles that get in the way of this.

Want to learn more? Request a 15 minute phone consultation.