Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based behavioral treatment that has been shown to be effective for youth and adults struggling with a range of psychological and medical conditions including depression, anxiety, OCD, chronic pain, and substance use.
ACT is based on the idea that our “go-to” strategies to manage difficult thoughts and feelings–typically, pushing away thoughts/feelings or allowing thoughts/feelings to control our behavior–do not work in the long run. In ACT, an individual learns how to effectively accept and cope with difficult emotions and situations, “loosen the grip” of unhelpful thoughts and beliefs, and take action based on what is most important in their life (their “values”).
ACT is designed to 1) reduce suffering through use of mindfulness, self-compassion, and acceptance-based coping skills, 2) help individuals identify their values, and 3) use behavioral skills to increase values-consistent behaviors in everyday life. These treatment goals are achieved through mindfulness practice, concrete metaphors and externalizing strategies that reduce the power of unhelpful thoughts, and “behavior experiments” that help the individual engage in the behaviors they currently avoid. ACT begins in the therapist’s office and continues outside of sessions with daily practices. These practices set the foundation for an individual to live their life in a meaningful and fulfilling way.