Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
ACT is a relatively new therapeutic approach which combines a range of techniques and skills from existing evidence-based therapies. The aims of ACT are 1) creating a value-based, meaningful life, 2) to reduce suffering, 3) to increase flexibility in responding to life, and 4) to spend more time in the present moment instead of feeling stuck in the past or worrying about the future. ACT is considered to be an offshoot of CBT as it is a way of dealing with unhelpful thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, however there is an important difference in the aims of the two therapies. Whereas CBT is focused on changing negative thoughts and behaviours, ACT is focused on making room for negative emotions and cognitions, 'defusing' or getting 'unhooked' from painful thoughts and emotions, remaining grounded in the present moment, and engaging in value-based behaviours important to your life goals. There are also similarities in the two styles of therapy. Both will address your painful thoughts, emotions, and physical symptoms, and both will focus on active behaviour change. Skills in ACT include 'defusion', mindfulness, identifying values, committing to value-based actions, and making space for difficult feelings and thoughts. You will be encouraged to use these skills between sessions. There is a growing body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of ACT for anxiety, depression, and many other psychological problems.