Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a form of psychotherapy used in the treatment of drug and alcohol treatment.
Like the name suggests this form of therapy aims to help clients accept that which they cannot change and commit to taking positive action in their lives in areas they can change. The aim of this form of therapy is to teach clients to become aware of what ‘life brings’ them and to alter their reaction to reality in positive ways. Particularly clients are taught to recognise negative thoughts and emotions and taught ways to positively handle them in ways which do not involve taking drugs or alcohol. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a close cousin of ACT. Whilst CBT teaches clients to alter negative thoughts and feelings, ACT merely encourages clients to notice and accept them.
The ins-and-outs of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
ACT makes use of a concept known as ‘self-as-context’. This is your consciousness which observes your feelings without actually feeling anything directly. ACT uses the ‘self-as-context’ concept to teach clients to observe and come to understand their feelings and thoughts in an objective manner.
Do you have the FEAR to ACT?
ACT uses the concept of FEAR to explain problems clients’ experience.
FEAR stands for:
- Fusion with thoughts
- Evaluation of experience
- Avoidance of experience
- Reason-giving for behaviour
ACT rather confusingly uses an acronym known as ACT to explain a healthier outlook to FEAR:
- Accept reactions and be present
- Choose a valued direction
- Take action
Six tenants of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Six principles are espoused by ACT for clients to feel psychologically healthy:
- Acceptance. Patients must allow their thought to arrive and then leave without fighting them
- Cognitive diffusion. Patients are taught to resist holding onto their subjective interpretation of past events
- Making contact with the ‘present moment’
- Observing the self
- Discovering one’s values
- Setting goals and committing to action