Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT Therapy is a third-wave mindfulness therapy with roots in both meditation and cognitive behavioral techniques. However, instead of focusing on identifying and changing thought patterns, ACT believes that all thoughts should be allowed and accepted (mindfulness) in the service of moving towards values (commitment).
Using this therapeutic modality, patients are required to participate in active experiential exercises that teach through experience and engagement. Metaphors and therapeutic activities are personally constructed and engaged live and in-the-moment during ACT in therapy sessions. These are incredibly powerful exercises and massive change agents (just ask anyone that has completed ACT therapy).
The objective of ACT is not elimination of difficult feelings, but rather, to be present with what life brings, however pleasant or unpleasant, and to move toward what actually matter most to you and your life. It invites patients to open up to the unpleasant, to even invite it, as a way of indirect remedy. It is a philosophical challenge to how one may have experienced thoughts and emotions previously. The guiding force is to create a more flexible, open, and centered psychology – and it works!
Cognitive Defusion: Learning methods to reduce the tendency to reify thoughts, images, emotions, and memories.
Acceptance: Allowing unwanted private experiences (thoughts, feelings and urges) to come and go without struggling with them.
Contact with the present moment: Awareness of the here and now, experienced with openness, interest, and receptiveness. (e.g., mindfulness)
The observing self: Accessing a transcendent sense of self, a continuity of consciousness which is unchanging and which can facilitate a new openness to experience
Values: Discovering what is most important to oneself.
Committed action: Setting goals according to values and carrying them out responsibly, in the service of a meaningful life.