Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Defined

Realizing that not everyone we speak with or speak to has a counseling background, we would like to give some clarity to types of therapy we implement and terms we often use.  This week is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  Our therapists at Waters Edge Counseling know this type of therapy to be extremely effective with many of our clients. So…let’s dig in and talk about what ACT actually is.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is defined as an action-oriented approach to psychotherapy that stems from traditional behavior therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (which we blogged about last week). In ACT, our clients learn to stop avoiding, denying, and struggling with their inner emotions. Instead, they begin to accept that these deeper feelings are appropriate responses to certain situations AND that they should not prevent them from moving forward in their lives. Once our therapists reach this understanding with our clients, they begin to accept their issues and hardships and commit to making necessary changes in their behavior, regardless of what is going on in their lives, and how they feel about it.

When is ACT used?

ACT has been used effectively to help treat:

  • workplace stress
  • test anxiety
  • social anxiety disorder
  • Depression
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Psychosis
  • chronic pain
  • substance abuse

Once your therapist identifies the client’s issue(s), then it’s time to get to work. If ACT is the preferred method of therapy, then what the client can expect is learning to listen to your own self-talk, or the way you talk to yourself specifically about traumatic events, problematic relationships, physical limitations, or other issues.

You and your therapist can then decide if an issue requires immediate action and change OR if it must be accepted for what it is (no change being possible) while you learn to make behavioral changes that can affect the situation. You may look at what hasn’t worked for you in the past, so that our therapist can help you stop repeating thought patterns and behaviors that are causing you more problems in the long run. Once you have faced and accepted your current issues, you make a commitment to stop fighting your past and your emotions and, instead, start practicing more confident and optimistic behavior, based on your personal values and goals.

Waters Edge Counselors have extensive experience with ACT and use this type of therapy daily with clients with a range of issues. If this is something you would like to consider or talk through, please give us a call today at 912.319.5552. We are here to help!