How to Use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

woman looking at the mirror

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an innovative approach to mental health and overall well-being. 

This therapy encourages individuals to accept their thoughts and feelings rather than fighting them, fostering mindfulness, and promoting action aligned with personal values.

Whether you're new to ACT or looking to deepen your understanding, this blog will provide practical steps for incorporating ACT principles into your daily life, helping you navigate life's challenges with greater resilience and flexibility. 

Keep on reading, and discover how ACT can empower you to live a more fulfilling, meaningful life. 


Adult Therapists in Colorado

Sherry Rice, LPCC, ADDC

Sherry Rice, LPCC, ADDC

Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Melissa Peterson, LPC

Melissa Peterson, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Paitton Callery, LPC, ATR-P

Paitton Callery, LPC, ATR-P

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Sarah Munk, LPC

Sarah Munk, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Abigail Corless, LPCC

Abigail Corless, LPCC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC, NCC, EMDR-Trained

Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC, NCC, EMDR-Trained

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Alex Wiley, LPC

Alex Wiley, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Maria Roncalli, LPC

Maria Roncalli, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021
Kelsey Motley, LPCC

Kelsey Motley, LPCC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Bethany Cantrell, LPC

Bethany Cantrell, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342


Understanding Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, commonly known as ACT, is a form of psychotherapy that employs mindfulness strategies blended with commitment and behavior-change strategies. 

This approach helps individuals to overcome negative thoughts and feelings and instead encourages acceptance and mindfulness. 

The goal of ACT is not to eliminate difficult feelings; rather, the aim is to engage fully with what life presents to us and to "move toward valued behavior".

ACT revolves around six fundamental principles: Embracing Acceptance, Practicing Cognitive Defusion, Staying Present, Understanding Self as Context, Identifying Values, and Pursuing Committed Action. 

Acceptance involves embracing reality instead of avoiding experiences. Cognitive Defusion teaches ways to reduce the tendency to reify thoughts, images, emotions, and memories. 

Being Present signifies an ongoing non-judgmental contact with psychological and environmental events as they occur. 

Self as Context refers to the constant and observing aspect of you, the one that experiences but remains separate from your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and memories. 

Values are chosen life directions, while Committed Action is the process of setting goals according to these values and carrying them out responsibly. 

Mindfulness plays a crucial role in ACT. It helps individuals stay connected to the present moment, experience their thoughts and feelings without judgment, and take action that aligns with their values. 



How ACT Works

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) works by helping individuals to accept their internal experiences, such as thoughts, feelings, and memories, rather than trying to change or avoid them. 

This acceptance is cultivated through mindfulness techniques that promote non-judgmental awareness of the present moment.

Commitment is also a crucial component of ACT. It involves making a conscious decision to take action in alignment with one's values, even when faced with difficult or uncomfortable internal experiences. 

This commitment is guided by clearly defined personal values, which serve as a compass for directing actions and making decisions. 

In essence, ACT encourages individuals to embrace their experiences, commit to acting in ways that align with their values, and move forward in life with flexibility and resilience.


The Benefits of ACT

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been shown to have numerous positive impacts on mental health. 

By teaching individuals to accept their thoughts and feelings rather than trying to suppress or alter them, ACT can reduce psychological stress and increase psychological flexibility. 

This approach fosters resilience and can help people better manage a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Additionally, by promoting mindfulness and values-driven action, ACT can enhance overall well-being and life satisfaction. 

It encourages individuals to live in alignment with their deepest values, leading to a more fulfilling, meaningful life. 


How to Use ACT in Everyday Life

To use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in everyday life, start by practicing mindfulness. 

This could involve taking a few minutes each day to sit quietly and focus on your breath, or it could mean paying more attention to your surroundings as you go about your day. 

When negative thoughts or feelings arise, instead of trying to push them away, acknowledge them non-judgmentally and let them be.

Next, work on identifying your values. Consider what truly matters to you in life, and define these principles clearly. 

Your values might include things like honesty, compassion, creativity, or personal growth.

Finally, commit to living according to these values. This means making decisions and taking actions that align wit

h what you've identified as important. 

If one of your values is health, for instance, you might commit to eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. 

Remember, the goal is not to eliminate negative experiences but to live a meaningful life despite them. 


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Seeking Professional Help with ACT

If you're struggling to apply Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) principles on your own, or if your mental health symptoms are severe or persist despite your efforts, it may be time to seek professional help. 

A trained ACT therapist can provide personalized guidance and support, helping you to understand and accept your thoughts and feelings, identify your core values, and take committed action toward living a life consistent with those values. 

They can also help you navigate any obstacles or challenges that arise along the way. 

Whether you're dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, or another mental health issue, an ACT therapist can provide the tools and strategies you need to improve your psychological flexibility and enhance your overall well-being. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) offers a powerful approach to enhancing mental health and overall well-being. 

It teaches us to practice mindfulness, accept our thoughts and feelings without judgment, and live according to our deepest values.

Integrating these principles into our daily life can lead to increased psychological flexibility and resilience, helping us to navigate life's challenges more effectively. 

Whether you're dealing with minor stress or a serious mental health issue, ACT techniques can be a valuable tool. 

However, if you find yourself struggling or if your symptoms persist, don't hesitate to seek professional help. 

An ACT therapist can provide personalized guidance and support, empowering you to live a more fulfilling, meaningful life. 

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July 13th, 2024

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