Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) (which is pronounced as the word 'act') teaches you  skills to deal with your painful challenges, situations, thoughts and feelings effectively – in such a way that they have much less or no impact and influence over you-helping you to clarify what is truly important  to you .

You then use this knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate your self to change your life for the better.  ACT is based on the application of mindfulness and what are termed 'values'. Values are those things that you discover are important in giving life meaning. ACT derives its name from one of its basic statements: Accept those things that are beyond your direct and immediate personal control, and commit to action that improves and enriches your life.

ACT therapy is part of the family of third wave Cognitive Behavioural Therapies that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behaviour change strategies, to increase ‘psychological flexibility’. Psychological flexibility means contacting the present moment as  consciously as you can. Based on Relational Frame Theory, ACT shows you the ways how language can trap you into futile attempts to wage war against your own inner life. Through using metaphor, paradox, and experiential exercises you can learn how to make healthy contact with thoughts, feelings, memories, and physical sensations that have been feared and avoided.

As a client, you can gain the skills to see  situations from a new perspective, accepting your private events, develop greater clarity about personal values, and commit to needed behaviour change.

ACT can help you clarify what is truly important and meaningful . These are the values, the things that are crucial to having a fulfilled and meaningful life. ACT helps you accept the difficulties that come with life.

ACT is a form of mindfulness based therapy, showing that greater well-being can be attained by overcoming negative thoughts and feelings. ACT helps you to look at your character traits and behaviours so that you can help yourself  in reducing how you try to avoid or control those very things that cause you pain and suffering. ACT can be a form of self-help.

ACT also addresses  your level of commitment to making changes, and what to do about it when you can't stick to your goals. ACT concentrates on 3 areas:

  1. accept your reactions and be present
  2. choose a valued path of action
  3. take action

Acceptance:

Whether it be a situation you cannot control, a personality trait that is hard to change or an emotion that overwhelms, accepting it can allow you to move forward. Obsessing, worrying and playing things over and over keep you stuck. In this sense, asking why can leave you helpless. ACT invites you to accept the reality and work with what you have. Some ACT acceptance strategies that I use with my clients are:

  • letting feelings or thoughts happen without the urge to carry them out
  • observe their weaknesses but noting their strengths
  • allow themselves approval to not be good at everything
  • recognise difficulties in their lives without escaping from or avoiding them
  • understanding that they can be skilful in how they react, think and feel

Defusion:

A facet of ACT is learning how to make stressful experiences less stressful, in ACT this is known as 'defusion'. Defusion involves recognising thoughts and feelings for what they really are:

  • passing sensations
  • sometimes illogical or unreasonable things that we tell ourselves - instead of what we think
  • for example; like feelings that will never end and similar thought patterns

The aim of defusion is not to avoid the experience, but to encourage it to be more manageable. A few of the key defusion strategies that I use with people are:

  • observing what you are feeling and observing the physical sensations
  • finding out how you are 'communicating' with yourself as you experience these feelings
  • to take notice and be mindful of the interpretation you make about your experience,and asking yourself if they are based in reality

My clients learn how to identify the strands of negative self-talk and dialogue and check them with realistic ones and then learn to reassess their experience with their new discovery.

The most remarkable thing about this approach is that although ACT does not aim to 'cure' people's issues directly, a wider range of people's challenges and difficulties whether they be health related or psychological, emotional or lifestyle issues can correct themselves through a natural process of change.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy uses metaphor, paradox,and mindfulness skills, along with a wide range of experiential exercises and values-guided behavioural interventions which I tailor to the client's needs. ACT is effective with a wide range of conditions that can include:

  • Anxiety, 
  • Anger & Aggression
  • Assertiveness,
  • Boundaries, Borders & Barriers,
  • Burn Out
  • Depression
  • Bullying , Defamation & Slander, 
  • Internet Harassment,  Stalking & Harassment , 
  • Cancer and Terminal Illness,
  • Chronic Pain,  
  • Chronic Fatigue ,
  • Chronic, Degenerative & Long Term Illness ,  
  • Health Anxiety
  • Catastrophe, Crisis & Conflict, Traumatic  Events,   
  • Panic & Panic Disorders, 
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Death, Dying, Grief & Loss ,
  • Low Self Esteem
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Social Anxiety
  • Terrorism and Terrorist Incidents
  • Tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse-including addiction to prescription medicines;
  • Schizophrenia and identity crisis
  • People emerging from psychological collapse

I use ACT to assist people in the above areas as well as in many others situations and life experiences. ACT can be used in helping you with any concern that you have The experience of having a session is for my clients very different to other therapeutic approaches that they have tried. They say they feel more involved with their own well-being. They feel more in charge of the process. It can become fun and insightful.

You are not labelled with symptoms  but are encouraged how to be willing to accept the fearful and challenging experiences. It is no longer just about getting rid of bad feelings or getting over old psychological states. Its about facing those scary things that are within you and following that which makes you most fulfilled. It is not about training what you might think of as your 'normal' state of mind. It is about understanding patterns and moving into your life.

Your 'normal' mind gets thrown by that. You learn how to be with your self. ACT gets you in touch with the big picture of your life and why you are here and what you want your life to mean or stand for. These values inspire and guide you to create true change.

ACT can help you to accept what is beyond your personal control and commit to actions that improve your life. Life can be rich, fulfilling and also painful, ACT shows you how to engage fully with this by learning psychological skills, that can give you the ability to live the life you want, full with the goals and values that you know to be best for your well-being and contentment.

Individual Sessions

If you would like to know more please send me an email in the 'Consult with Christopher' section of my website.