Acceptance and commitment therapy is a relatively new method of therapy that was initially developed in the 1980s.
It is a cognitive-behavioral form of therapy that emerged when research began heavily suggesting avoiding or suppressing uncomfortable inner experiences. These experiences could be so influential to the individual that it could result in the development of a variety of mental and even physical conditions.
Acceptance and commitment therapy has been proven to be successful for a variety of psychological conditions, and ongoing research continues to support the effects of this therapy, increasing its popularity with each passing year.
In this article, we’re going to discuss five powerful benefits of acceptance and commitment therapy.
What is acceptance and commitment therapy?
Thoughts, emotions and events (specifically painful or traumatic ones) that have not been fully processed cannot be released. The ripple effect of these avoided experiences will continue to manifest in your life, often in destructive ways, until they are faced, accepted and healed.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a form of psychotherapy that promotes facing uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and events, rather than ignoring or suppressing them.
The purpose of ACT is to foster psychological flexibility in a person, which is the ability to fully experience thoughts and emotions when they surface. Instead of the opposite, avoiding them because they are painful or uncomfortable, and then completely release them and move forward.
Someone with psychological flexibility experiences a deep sense of balance in their life. It enables them to act and make decisions from a place of conscious, value-based intention. Rather than from a knee-jerk reaction that’s stemming from any thoughts, feelings or wounds that have been ignored or left unhealed.
Acceptance and commitment therapy techniques utilize a combination of acceptance, self-compassion and mindfulness strategies to teach you be more open to your personal experiences (positive or painful). So that you can essentially learn to “go with the flow” and remove unnecessary stress, anxiety and grief from your life.
Acceptance and commitment therapy benefits
1. Cognitive defusion
We often cause ourselves significant mental and emotional turmoil by uniting ourselves to our thoughts and believing every single thought or feeling we experience. ACT teaches us to distance our identity and self-worth from our thoughts and feelings so that we can more clearly and objectively observe, reframe and release them.
2. Improved emotional and mental health
ACT teaches you how to regulate emotions as well as identify and reframe negative thinking patterns. The former helps to balance your emotional state, so rather than feeling controlled by whatever your emotions are on a day-to-day basis, you remain in charge of yourself. The latter helps to improve your mental health by reducing symptoms of depression and helping you to foster better self-compassion and self-acceptance.
3. Reduced stress and anxiety
The goal of ACT is not to “cure” you of stress and anxiety, but rather, teach you techniques to improve the way you physically and mentally respond to these experiences. Stress and anxiety often happen as a natural consequence of certain situations and cannot be “controlled,” but you can learn how to respond so that they do not control you.
4. Strengthened values
Whether we’re aware of it or not, our values (or lack thereof) deeply impact the way we live our lives, the state of our mental health, and our ability to be happy. Values are not goals you set out to achieve; they are principles rooted deeply in your core you draw upon to guide your actions.
5. Being present in the moment
One of the biggest thieves of our peace and joy is the inability to live in the present moment. Pain or regret can keep us trapped in the past, while fear of the unknown can cause us to become obsessed with hypothetical future “what ifs.” Learning to keep ourselves rooted in the present moment is one of the many skills ACT teaches you to master.
What to expect from ACT sessions
ACT sessions can be held in the form of a standard in-person visit, online or even via smartphone; they are often shorter than conventional therapy appointments.
It’s common for therapists to ask about what you value most in life, what your core beliefs are (spiritually and otherwise), as well as what short- and long-term goals matter most to you.
ACT can also include:
- Mindfulness and “conscious” exercises
- Meditations or hypnosis to foster deeper self-awareness
- Practicing kinder, more positive self-talk (in and out of the sessions)
- Assignments to complete between sessions to practice skills in the “real world.”
If you think you or someone you love could benefit from acceptance and commitment therapy, send us a message.
Contact us for personal support
Real Recovery is a renowned mental health treatment center that offers personalized, evidence-based treatment plans to help you create your happiest, healthiest life.
Our belief in full-spectrum care (treating the emotional, physical, cognitive, spiritual, and social), lends to our unique approach to recovery that has been proven to foster sustainable healing.
To learn more about which of our programs are right for you, call us today at 855-363-7325.