Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based treatment with an emphasis on mindfulness and valued living. While other treatments focus on the content of thoughts and emotions, ACT focuses on the context and function of emotions.
The literature on ACT can be quite complex (a fair warning to Googlers!). A central focus of this approach is to increase our ability to contact the present moment--the more we are present, the less we are stuck ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Below are a few examples of how ACT describes why we suffer...
We suffer due to:
- Persistent avoidance of painful experiences ("If I push it out of mind really hard, I won't have to think about it, and therefore it won't affect me"). Ask yourself about the last time that was successful.
- Inflexibility in our views of ourselves
- The language we use with ourselves to describe our experiences (think about the harsh words you use with yourself when experiencing negative emotions)
ACT is additionally focused on identifying values, as well as a commitment to living life in accordance with those values. It teaches us how to use mindfulness to simply notice thoughts and feelings, rather than allowing such thoughts and feelings dictate our behavior. Treatment incorporates mindfulness and acceptance to help individuals to identify what is truly important in their lives and commit to actions in accordance with value-determined goals.