Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), based on Relational Frame Theory (RFT), is a third wave behavioral therapy that utilizes mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions to enable active engagement with life with greater psychological flexibility, clarity of values, and effective action. Within ACT’s framework, psychological suffering tends to be the result of maladaptive interactions between human language and thoughts, attempts to exert control, attachment to the conceptualized self, disconnection from the present moment, and unwillingness to engage in behaviors driven by one’s true values.

ACT is focused on letting go of fusion or attachment to thoughts, embracing the present moment, and engaging in effective patterns of behavioral action to move toward value-based goals. The idea is that life can be painful, and attempts to reduce pain through control and avoidance only result in additional unnecessary suffering. The ultimate goal of practicing the basic principles of ACT is to build a rich, vibrant, and meaningful life while accepting the inevitable pain that comes with it.

Acceptance in a Nutshell

“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” – Carl Jung Mindfulness-based therapies such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) infuse the concept of acceptance throughout treatment.  The idea behind acceptance is the notion of surrendering and opening yourself up to all aspects of your internal and external experience in their entirety.  This means…

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“Leaves on a Stream” – Cognitive Defusion Exercise

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) provides us with the tools to practice cognitive defusion, which is the willingness to let go of the attachment and over-identification with thoughts that cause suffering.  When fusion to thoughts becomes problematic, those thoughts become “true” and “real” in…

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Identify Cognitive Fusion

“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”  – Swedish Proverb Cognitive fusion takes hold when we become so attached to patterns of thinking or specific thoughts that they get in the way of leading a full, rich, and meaningful life.  In order words, we are fused to our thoughts when they cause significant…

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Cognitive Defusion in a Nutshell

“People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.” – George Bernard Shaw Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) encourages people to “defuse” themselves from maladaptive patterns of thinking through a process called cognitive defusion.  The idea is that we all have a tendency to over-identify with our thoughts, amplifying…

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Confront the Agenda of Emotional Control

“Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.” – William James When we experience emotional suffering, it is natural to want it to “stop.”  There is often…

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Problem-Solve with Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.” – Mother Theresa Problems great and small can seem overwhelming when they are not mindfully examined and understood.  You can take specific problem-solving actions that will result in problems becoming more manageable.  When problems…

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What Stands Between You & the Life You Want?

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) enlists people to identify their most cherished values, set goals in accordance with those values, and then begin to direct their behavior towards reaching those goals.  One way of asking yourself a motivating question to…

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Break Out of the Control & Avoidance Cycle

“No creature is fully itself till it is, like the dandelion, opened in the bloom of pure relationship to the sun, the entire living cosmos.” – D.H. Lawrence It is understandable to fall into the pattern of trying to control things around us when life feels chaotic or frightening, just as it is understandable to…

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Build Effective Patterns of Action

“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin We create a great deal of our own suffering in life through problems with self-control.  We are often very good at saying all sorts of wonderful things that we would like to do differently, but often we don’t back up those words with action.  This comes…

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