Acceptance and Commitment Therapy:
What is It?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of psychotherapy developed in the 1980s by Steven C. Hayes, a professor at the University of Utah. This approach to mental health treatment is based on mindfulness practices and helps patients live in the present moment, regardless of their current circumstances.
ACT aims to help patients accept their negative thoughts and emotions and realize they are not defined by them while still making active progress toward their goals. By gaining a deeper understanding of how their emotions work in relation to their personal values, patients can create a more meaningful life.
Activate Healthy Change With ACT
By desiring change, you have already taken the first step in your journey towards recovery.
From here on, things will only get better.
At Epiphany Wellness, we utilize Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help you develop the emotional strength and psychological flexibility needed to overcome addiction and face mental health challenges.
With ACT, we can help you overcome barriers to recovery and build the resilience necessary to maintain a healthy, fulfilling life.
ACT Therapy Information
The Role of ACT Therapy in Addiction Treatment
ACT therapy is particularly useful in the treatment of substance use disorders, as it helps patients acknowledge and live with negative emotions while still making progress toward their recovery goals. This evidence-based approach is also effective in treating co-occurring conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
At Epiphany Wellness, we incorporate ACT therapy into their treatment plans, as it provides patients with the skills necessary to manage negative emotions and increase mindfulness, and change strategies in their coping to prevent relapse.
How Does ACT Therapy Compare to Other Types of Therapy?
While ACT and other psychotherapies have similar overarching goals, the approaches and focus of ACT as compared to other forms of therapy can differ:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) vs. ACT
CBT and ACT both aim to help patients change negative thought patterns and behaviors, but they take slightly different approaches.
CBT is often focused on identifying and challenging negative thoughts and helping patients replace them with more positive ones. By changing their thinking patterns, patients can change their emotions and behaviors.
In contrast, ACT does not seek to change or challenge negative thoughts. Rather, during a session, an ACT therapist encourages patients to observe thoughts and internal experiences without judgment and accept them as part of their experience. This can help patients disengage from unhelpful thought patterns and focus on taking actions that align with their values.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) vs. ACT
MBSR and ACT both incorporate mindfulness practices into their therapeutic approach, but they have different focuses.
MBSR is primarily focused on reducing stress and improving overall well-being through mindfulness meditation, body awareness, and other techniques. For example, a client with chronic pain may practice mindfulness exercises to help them manage their pain and reduce their stress levels.
ACT, on the other hand, uses mindfulness as a tool to help patients accept their thoughts and emotions without judgment and take actions that align with their values. For example, a client with a history of substance use may use mindfulness techniques to observe their cravings without judgment and then take actions that align with their values, such as reaching out to a support group or engaging in a healthy activity instead of using substances.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) vs. ACT
Both therapies use mindfulness and acceptance-based approaches, but they are typically used to treat different conditions.
DBT is primarily used to treat borderline personality disorder and other conditions that involve intense emotions and unstable relationships. DBT includes more structured skills training than ACT, including modules on emotional regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness.
Conversely, ACT is used to treat a wide range of mental health conditions and focuses more on promoting psychological flexibility and values-based behavior change.
Psychodynamic Therapy vs. ACT
Psychodynamic therapy is focused on exploring unconscious patterns and early life experiences to gain insight into current behavior and emotional problems. This approach may involve talking about past traumas or relationships and exploring how they may be impacting the client’s current life.
Whereas psychodynamic therapy focuses on the past, ACT sessions are centered on the present moment and helping patients with setting goals and taking action towards their values and goals–both long and short-term. While past experiences may be relevant to the client’s current situation, the focus is on identifying values and taking action in the present moment.
While there may be some overlap between these different types of therapy, each has its own unique approach and may be more effective for certain individuals and the presenting conditions.
Components of ACT Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is based on six core principles that help patients navigate negative thoughts and emotions, improve emotional regulation, and make meaningful changes in their lives.
The 6 core principles of ACT therapy are:
This principle involves acknowledging and embracing negative thoughts and emotions in the present moment rather than avoiding or denying them. Acceptance helps to reduce feelings of shame and guilt associated with negative emotions.
Cognitive defusion is the practice of observing and acknowledging thoughts and feelings without becoming consumed by them. This technique helps patients to create separation between themselves and their emotions, which can improve behavioral control.
Committed action involves behaving in a way that aligns with one’s values to achieve desired outcomes. This principle is particularly important for those recovering from substance use disorders or other behavioral health conditions.
Contact with the Present Moment
This principle encourages mindfulness and being fully present in the current moment. By focusing on the present and avoiding fixation on the past or future, patients can improve their emotional regulation.
The Observing Self
Also known as Self-As-Context, this principle emphasizes self-awareness and reflection in a non-judgmental and objective manner.
Values are the personal compass that guides one’s life and helps one to make healthier choices. ACT therapy helps patients to identify their most important values and use them to guide their actions.
We Can Help You Activate Change From Within. Move Forward Toward Your Goals With Epiphany Wellness.
You deserve a better quality of life. ACT therapy can help.
If you or a loved one are suffering from substance abuse or a co-occurring mental health condition, or would would like more information on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, call and speak with a member of the Epiphany Wellness team today.
Frequently Asked Questions About Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
What is the goal of ACT in Substance Abuse Treatment?
The goal of ACT in substance use disorder treatment programs is primarily to help individuals overcome cravings and prevent relapse. This substance abuse therapy helps patients develop a greater sense of self-awareness and emotional regulation.
Who can benefit from ACT?
ACT is used to address a multitude of mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, trauma, chronic pain, as well as addiction. It can also be useful for individuals who are looking to improve their overall well-being and increase their sense of fulfillment.
What is the role of mindfulness in ACT?
Mindfulness is a key component of ACT. Mindfulness involves being present in the moment, observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment, and accepting one’s internal experiences.
By practicing mindfulness, individuals can learn to be more aware of their experiences and respond to them in a more flexible way.
What is cognitive defusion in ACT?
Cognitive defusion in ACT involves recognizing that thoughts are not necessarily true or accurate and learning to detach from them rather than becoming encompassed by them. Through cognitive defusion, mental health professionals can guide patients in learning to defuse difficult thoughts and reduce their emotional reactivity.
What is self-as-context in ACT?
Self-as-context is recognizing that one’s sense of self is not limited to one’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences but rather is a larger, more stable sense of self. A more stable sense of self lends itself to neuroplasticity wherein someone does not view their circumstances as black and white or “good and bad” but rather as something that can be changed according to one’s goals.
What is the role of values in ACT?
Values are what guide behavior. This is especially important in addiction treatment. By identifying one’s values and taking committed action based on them, individuals can develop a more fulfilling life and reduce their sense of psychological distress that may lead them to use substances or problematic behaviors to cope.
How does ACT address experiential avoidance?
ACT addresses experiential avoidance by encouraging individuals to accept their experiences and take committed action despite difficult thoughts and feelings.