Know Your Therapy: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

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Acceptance and commitment therapy is a type of psychotherapy that stresses acceptance as a strategy for coping with unfavourable thoughts, feelings, symptoms, or situations. It promotes a stronger commitment to positive, healthy endeavours that support your ideals or objectives. To help people, live and act in ways that are compatible with their values while also increasing psychological flexibility, acceptance, and commitment therapy (ACT) emphasises mindfulness practices.

Unwanted emotional experiences are not regarded by ACT theory as symptoms or issues. It tries to help people understand the fullness and vigour of life instead of addressing the inclination of some to consider those who seek therapy as damaged or imperfect.

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Who Should Consider ACT?

“A boy who was just 17 years old suffered from the disorder in which he gets irritated by the eating-related sound. He had this issue from middle school which escalated to a high level of rage and anger.  Due to this he used to stay away from family and friends. As many of his friends used to chew gum, so he used to avoid them. He even warned some of his pals not to eat when they are with them. He avoided family dinners or functions. He started to live alone.

By time he came for the treatment his behaviour was becoming more motivated by avoidance rather than by his beliefs, he had unfavourable opinions about his misophonia triggers ingrained in him, and his capacity to withstand the upsetting emotions elicited by his triggers was declining. Since he did not mention any further issues or challenges, his misophonia symptoms were the only thing that received therapy.

He was given mindfulness and Acceptance and commitment therapy for 1 year which were given in 10 sessions and then the post treatment follow-up was done for 6 months. He was now able to tolerate and accept the chewing disorder. The disorder has reached a baseline from where it cannot be reduced further.”

ACT for anxiety usually has good results. You will be aware of the ongoing emotional struggle that anxiety causes if you have ever had it.

A therapist will assist you in accepting everything, including the anxiety itself as well as the previously mentioned emotional struggle with it. Although it seems illogical, it works. Research demonstrates that ACT for anxiety disorders is just as effective as CBT and may even be effective in a self-help setting.

According to research on depression, ACT is as successful as other depression therapy options, if not more so.

Challenges to negative, distorted thinking are frequently the focus of traditional treatments for depression. This is difficult and can occasionally make depression sufferers’ suffering worse. ACT alters that by assisting you in acknowledging the distressing thoughts as a legitimate aspect of your experience. This makes it easier for you to recognise them as just those thoughts, not concrete truths. Despite these beliefs, you can then start to take steps toward the kind of life you want for yourself.

As a treatment for different addictions, Addiction ACT is also promising.

Subsurface problematic — frequently unpleasant — thoughts and feelings are common in people with addictions. Through bringing these feelings into the open, ACT aids the individual in making sense of them.

Although difficult, this procedure is crucial. Addictions frequently assist people numb or detach from their suffering. Our sorrow begins to lose its power over us when we acknowledge it and understand that it is a natural part of who we are.

One of the most intriguing applications of the therapy is the use of ACT to treat psychosis. In one investigation, it was discovered that ACT was linked to higher symptom reporting and decreased symptom plausibility. Most intriguing, re-hospitalization rates for individuals who completed four ACT sessions were cut in half compared to those in the control group.

Benefits of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

A form of mindful psychotherapy called acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT therapy) can assist you in maintaining your attention in the present moment and accepting your thoughts and feelings without passing judgement.

It tries to assist you in overcoming challenging emotions so you may focus on healing rather than lingering on the bad. You can develop a set of coping skills tailored to your condition with the assistance of a qualified professional, which you can use to manage difficult situations throughout your life. The effect ACT has on psychological flexibility is one of its main advantages.

The ability to embrace your thoughts and feelings when they are helpful and to set them aside when they are not known as psychological flexibility. This enables you to carefully respond to your inner experience, refrain from quick decisions, and concentrate on leading a meaningful life.

Your capacity to accept and cope with the effects of disorders like anxiety or depression can be enhanced by psychological flexibility. This improvement in psychological flexibility frequently results in large reductions in those symptoms.

It Concentrates on Improving People’s Lives Regardless of Symptoms. Your quality of life may suffer if you are always battling symptoms. Whether or not symptoms improve, ACT is aware of this and works to enhance quality of life. Even while there are some things we cannot control; the truth is that there are always tiny actions we can take to improve our lives. ACT aids individuals in realising they are greater than their illness or situation. Even if you suffer a mental illness, you can still lead a meaningful life that is consistent with your personal values. This realisation alone is potent and frequently results in a decrease in symptoms. It makes us psychologically more adaptable

Acceptance, cognitive diffusion, present, self-observation, values, and committed action—the six ACT fundamental principles—help us develop greater mental flexibility.

This not only helps us manage the ailment for which we are having therapy, but it also prepares us for future situations. It recognizes that negative experiences are a natural part of life. It’s not always healthy to ignore unpleasant events because we can’t always control what happens to us. Denying them can result in further misery because they are a necessary component of our existence.

Being able to embrace negative events as a necessary component of changing how we respond to them is what makes ACT special. This doesn’t exclude us from trying to modify them when we can. However, because we’re working with our mind rather than against it, it does give us a better opportunity to strive toward good transformation.

The Philosophy Behind ACT?

Relational Frame Theory (RFT), a thorough theory of language and cognition that is drawn from behaviour analysis, is the pragmatic philosophy on which ACT is founded. RFT uses a functional, contextualist approach to comprehend complex human behaviour, such as language and mind, in contrast to standard models of language and cognition, which focus on an information transmission mechanism.

We all have a tremendous amount of worry stored up inside of us that is concealed in our individual pasts, and we also have a great deal of anxiety stored up inside of us that we may experience in our individual futures. We may have thoughts in the present that bring back prior instances of anxiety or that foreshadow concern that may develop in the future. As a result, words start to inflict suffering in accordance with RFT’s guiding principles.

When we hear of someone else’s loss of a father, we are reminded of our own comparable loss. We haven’t just gone through another bereavement; all we have been exposed to are the other person’s words. The words of pain we are hearing cause us to automatically think and feel as though death is happening right now.

Instead of noticing these words and thoughts as thoughts, we frequently accept them literally. Because pain may be brought to our minds at any time through words and thought, it ends up being able to harm us. It can’t be prevented. Often, the traumatic event persists and causes us anxiety, fear, grief, anguish, guilt, and other challenging feelings the more we try to avoid it.

Without language, we would be unable to recall a bad past or foresee a bad future. However, the way our minds often process pain makes matters worse. Humans tend to establish an unspoken rule that pain is bad, the absence of suffering is good, and that if something is wrong, we should endeavour to eliminate it by taking direct action.

Working with the RFT model of language and cognition, ACT aids in the relief of suffering by assisting individuals in accepting painful experiences and thoughts—which RFT and ACT both acknowledge cannot be controlled over the long term—and committing to actions that lead to a rich and fulfilling life. As a result, the core philosophy of ACT (i.e., RFT) is pragmatic and precise, relying on only a few fundamental ideas to explain language and mind, using principles that can be verified through direct observation. It is based on empirical study and has practical and clinical applications. Advocates claim it is advancing the study of complicated human behaviour in fascinating new ways with major ramifications for practically every field.

Relational Frame Theory And ACT

Relation theory (RFT) is a psychological theory of the language. According to RFT, people have the capacity to connect ideas, words, and images, and this unit of linking is a fundamental component of “higher cognition,” or the capacity for human connection.

Although the foundation of ACT is the belief that pain is a normal and inescapable part of life for everyone, this does not mean that we should give up and accept it.

The relational frame theory is used by ACT to alter and eradicate the thought and language patterns that cause pain since it also holds the view that part of the suffering, we experience is needless and even detrimental to our mental health.

The implications of RFT include, but are not limited to, the likelihood of cognitive fusion and experiential avoidance, the peril of suppression and disputation, the significance of cognitive diffusion and experiential acceptance, the significance of senses of “self,” and the centrality of values. All of these have been developed into ACT therapy modalities.

Six Core Processes In ACT

“a psychological intervention based on modern behavioural psychology, including Relational Frame Theory, that applies mindfulness and acceptance processes, and commitment and behaviour change processes, to the creation of psychological flexibility”

  • Being present: Being psychologically present is intentionally interacting with and participating in whatever is taking place right now. Being present is quite difficult for people. We are aware of how simple it is to become preoccupied with our thoughts and become disconnected from the outside world, just like other people. We can lose ourselves in thoughts of the past or the future for extended periods of time. ACT encourages you to learn to focus your attention elsewhere while remaining aware of your environment.
  • Defusion: Defusion is the ability to “step back” and distance oneself from one’s thoughts, feelings, and memories. Although “cognitive defusion” is the correct word, we commonly just refer to it as “defusion.” We let them come and go as if they were merely cars passing by outside our house, not getting caught up in them or being pushed around by them. Instead of getting caught up in it, we take a step back and observe our thinking. We recognise our thoughts for what they truly are—words or images, nothing. We don’t grip them tightly; we grasp them loosely. Separating yourself from your inner experiences is referred to as cognitive defusion. This enables you to perceive thoughts for what they are, thoughts, devoid of the significance that your mind bestows upon them.
  • Acceptance: It entails making space for uncomfortable emotions, drives, sentiments, and experiences. We stop fighting with them, give them some room to breathe, and let them be who they are. We open to them and let them be instead of battling, resisting, fleeing from, or becoming overwhelmed by them. This entails letting your inner thoughts and feelings come up naturally without trying to suppress them. It takes effort to accept something.
  • Self as context: The term “thinking self” refers to the aspect of us that is always thinking and creating ideas, opinions, memories, judgments, dreams, plans, and other things. However, most people are not familiar with the watching self, which is the part of us that is constantly conscious of our thoughts, feelings, senses, and actions. It can also be referred to as “pure awareness.” To do this, you must develop the ability to distinguish between your ideas and deeds. Self-as-context is the official word used in ACT.
  • Values: Values are desirable characteristics of continuous behaviour. In other words, they outline the consistent behaviour we hope to exhibit. To live a meaningful life, one must first clearly define their ideals. In ACT, values are frequently referred to as “selected life directions.” Because they provide us with direction and lead our ongoing path, values are frequently compared to a compass. You will be urged to consider your basic values and pinpoint what is significant to you during ACT sessions. What name do you want to go by? What kind of life do you wish to lead?
  • Commitment: To take committed action, one must behave wisely and in accordance with one’s ideals. Knowing your principles is great, but living a rich, fulfilling, and meaningful life only comes from consistently acting in accordance with them. To put it another way, our voyage only begins when we move our arms and legs in the direction we’ve decided to travel. If we merely stare at the compass, we won’t have much of a journey. Action that is motivated by values produces a variety of thoughts and emotions, both good and bad, both pleasure and painful. Consequently, committed action entails “doing what it takes” to live by our ideals, even if doing so causes discomfort and pain. Your conduct will be changed during this process in accordance with the concepts discussed in therapy.

 Infiheal is Here For You?


ACT seeks to help people accept things that are outside their “sphere of influence” or personal control, particularly undesirable private experiences like emotions, thoughts, and cravings, and then resolve to make positive choices that will enrich and enhance their lives.

It seems simple, but is it really? Developing psychological flexibility—the capacity to stay in touch with the present and be able to change or maintain behaviour while adhering to personal values—is one of the key goals of ACT. Your capacity to accept and cope with the effects of disorders like anxiety or depression may be enhanced by psychological flexibility. This improvement in psychological flexibility often results in large reductions in those symptoms.

Some psychologists criticised ACT as an efficient technique they claimed that the theory and practical result is like comparing apples to oranges. But many psychologists claim that it has been a revolution in the field of psychology where the person is freed from the pain of the real world and its practical implementation has also shown positive outcomes.


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