Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a form of clinical behaviour analysis used in Psychotherapy. It is an empirically-based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies mixed in different ways with commitment and behaviour-change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility. The objective is not elimination of difficult feelings; rather, it is to be present with what life brings us and to “move toward valued behaviour”ACT differs from traditional cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in that rather than trying to teach people to better control their thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories and other private events, ACT teaches them to “just notice,” accept, and embrace their private events, especially previously unwanted ones.
The core conception of ACT is that psychological suffering is usually caused by experiential avoidance, cognitive entanglement, and resulting psychological rigidity that leads to a failure to take needed behavioural steps in accord with core values. As a simple way to summarise the model, ACT views the core of many problems to be due to the concepts represented in the acronym, FEAR:
- Fusion with your thoughts.
- Evaluation of experience.
- Avoidance of your experience.
- Reason-giving for your behaviour.
And the healthy alternative is to ACT:
- Accept your reactions and be present.
- Choose a valued direction.
- Take action.
ACT employs six core principles to help clients develop psychological flexibility.