Fall is finally around the corner and I hope you have had a good summer-mine was busy working and learning and hurling myself into new knowledge—one of which I would like to share today…. its called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT….for those who might not have heard about it.
I knew nothing of ACT until summer this year, when I attended a workshop called the ‘ACT for Anxiety’. It sought to apply the core principles of ACT to those of us afflicted with an anxiety disorder. So Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a behavioral therapy all about creating a rich, full and meaningful life whilst accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it. Officially, when written as ACT, the ACT is said as the word “act” and not as the initials A-C-T. From the “third generation” of behavior therapies, ACT is a contextual approach challenging clients to accept their thoughts and feelings and still commit to change(Dewane,C, 2008)
ACT in a Nutshell… is
The core principle of ACT can be described by using a simple (and unsurprising) acronym:
A = Accept your thoughts and feelings, and be present
C = Choose a valued direction T = Take action
So an example might be:
Client: “I want to change, BUT I am too anxious.”
Social worker: “You want to change, AND you are anxious about it.”
This subtle verbal and cognitive shift is the essence of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). It suggests that a person can take action without first changing or eliminating feelings. Rather than fighting the feeling attached to a behavior, a person can observe oneself as having the feeling but still act (Mattaini, 1997). Acceptance-based approaches (Hayes & Wilson, 1994) postulate that instead of opting for change alone, the most effective approach may be to accept and change. As one of the postmodern behavioral approaches, ACT is being evaluated as another short-term intervention in a variety of populations seen by social workers.
ACT establishes psychological flexibility by focusing on six core processes:
Acceptance of private experiences (i.e., willingness to experience odd or uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations in the service of response flexibility)
Cognitive defusion or emotional separation/distancing (i.e., observing one’s own uncomfortable thoughts without automatically taking them literally or attaching any particular value to them)
Being present (i.e., being able to direct attention flexibly and voluntarily to present external and internal events rather than automatically focusing on the past or future)
A perspective-taking sense of self (i.e., being in touch with a sense of ongoing awareness)
Identification of values that are personally important
Commitment to action for achieving the personal values identified
The first four processes define the ACT approach to mindfulness, and the last two define the ACT approach to behavioral activation.
ACT is delivered to clients in one-on-one sessions, in small groups or larger workshops, or in books or other media, through the presentation of information, dialogue, and the use of metaphors, visualization exercises, and behavioral homework. And that can be modified into any creative art therapy session .The number and length of sessions and the overall duration of the intervention can vary depending on the needs of the client or the practice of the treatment provider.
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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA