Acceptance Commitment Therapy And Its Benefits

Steven C. Hayes, with his deeper understanding of the ACT, adds a new equivalent to the psychotherapy process where three main conditions can be distinguished:

– Acceptance,

– Connection,

– Taking Action.

With Wilson and Strosahl, in 2012, he wrote more about such mindful change.

Overall, the ACT theory itself comes from Behavior Therapy. Behaviorism establishes the ACT theory during “third wave” of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  New theory achieves the support from the analysis of cognitive processes (Larmar, Wiatrowski, Lewis-Driver, 2014).

There is an ultimate goal which is about much psychological flexibility when this therapy works out. Reacting to the painful thoughts, emotions, and feelings as an observer is to know how flexible you are. A genuine observer cannot hurt himself or play against his own values. Actually, values are an essential trigger of taking action.

Aaron T. Beck, as a cognitive therapist (CBT), would find errors and negative thoughts in logic to stop your depression, but in the ACT, connection to the inner self comes through experiential acceptance and cognitive defusion when you only notice negative thoughts and observe them, accept them. These cognitive processes affect any person very much. The role they play is central in the ACT. Not avoiding them, not analyzing them, just noticing and accepting them is the key. That is why ACT is a response to not only the cognitive but also to the existential criticism of traditional Behavioral Therapy (Hayes, 2004).

Moreover, the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy deals with mindfulness patterns when you get out of your mind and into your life to play an effective game in the moment of now. CBT created this corridor of new mindfulness trends but never got any further. But there are many familiar researchers and practical minds that dig deeper (Ciarrocchi and Bailey, 2008).

Incidentally, ACT was just one of many cognition approaches inspired by Mr. Beck’s philosophy, and it’s certainly based on behavior change processes during the practice of the therapy. Mindfulness, acceptance, commitment to act according to your values, and behavioral change create psychological flexibility.

Here are 6 main processes of the ACT that must be known to achieve certain positive effects:

1. Contact with the present moment:

Focus on the present to move forward from the weight of the past, or move away from too much control about your future. The current moment heals. Connection to the world and the actual flow of life here and now is what really matters.

2. Acceptance:

Is about accepting painful emotions, feelings, and thoughts you always avoided or fought with. Learning to accept without judging or overreacting is a game-changer. It leads to a new experience without avoidance. Less avoidance brings back flexibility. It fixes old patterns of behavior and emotions.

3. Cognitive Defusion:

It gives you much breathing room between thoughts, flashbacks, and showers of negative emotions. A dark place of difficult thoughts or emotions can be dissolved when you learn to notice and change your attitude, when you separate yourself from them, when you can see the bigger picture, and not just your negative thoughts.

4. Self-as-context:

Is the mindful part of you that you teach to notice and witness thoughts, feelings, and actions. This part allows you to be mindful without judging, and via this observing self, you are fully aware of your sensations.

5. Values:

Through the connection to your deeper senses, you find out what is important for you, and where to go in life (purpose, direction, decision).

6. Commitment:

Your values, purpose, direction, and decision are your guidelines in real life. Commitment is the process of taking steps towards valued goals even when you experience uncomfortable thoughts. Commitment is not much about the outcome; it is about giving you a meaningful life when you take action.

The ACT therapy is rather effective. You will benefit from the therapy if you suffer from:

  • General Anxiety Disorder
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Psychosis
  • Substances Abuse
  • Chronic Pain.

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