Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an emerging treatment commonly classified in the “third wave” of therapies. This evidence-based approach focuses on acceptance and mindfulness strategies to increase client commitment to behavioral change. While the first two generations of behavioral therapy target symptom reduction, ACT complements traditional methods with increased psychological flexibility and offers a healthy and effective guide to action through six core processes.
The Psychological Flexibility Model
Psychological flexibility is the ability to contact the present moment more fully as a conscious human being and to change, or persist in, behavior meant to achieve the desired results. It consists of six core processes:
- Being Present
- Self as Context
- Committed Action
Acceptance is all about opening up and creating space. As opposed to avoidance, acceptance empowers the person to stop struggling with painful feelings and previous personal events. Futile efforts to evade symptoms can effectively be supplanted by values-based decisions.
Defusion, or “cognitive defusion”, attempts to create separation between a person and their negative thoughts. This technique changes how one relates to these thoughts by offering new perspective and context. Defusion decreases the believability and attachment to debilitating thoughts and feelings.
Being present promotes a conscious connection and active engagement with the present moment. A state of “going through the motions” or “being on auto-pilot” reduces psychological flexibility and distracts from values. Being present makes way for a non-judgmental contact with psychological and environmental events.
Self as Context
This ACT process cultivates awareness of the self through mindfulness, metaphors, and examination. Self-as-context gets in touch with the “I” that experiences thoughts, feelings, and life events. Growing evidence suggests high importance in separating the thinking self from the observing self.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy would have no direction without values. Uncovering values through ACT processes is an essential part of creating a meaningful life. Standards, ideals, and principles are the compass by which behavior can be modeled and life decisions can be made.
The psychological flexibility afforded by ACT processes creates the ability to take committed action and make values-based decisions. At this stage, traditional behavioral therapy, such as goal setting, exposure, and skills-training, can have their maximum benefit. ACT protocols typically involve committed action toward short, medium, and long-term goals determined by values.
Bradford Recovery Center employs expert therapists proficient in utilizing best-practice and emerging treatment approaches. We believe in individualized care and treatment plans based on each person’s needs, strengths, beliefs, goals, and objectives. Call now for a free substance abuse assessment.