Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was created by Steven Hayes in 1986. ACT is a person-center form of therapy that aims to increase a person’s level of psychological flexibility in life. Psychological flexibility pertains to an individual’s level of flexibility to ebb and flow with various forms of stressors in their lives. ACT is underpinned by six pillars. These pillars include: present-moment focus, defusion, self-as-context, committed action, values, and acceptance. These are further discussed below.
Six Pillars of ACT
The six pillars of ACT are dynamic and flexible to meet an individual where they are in life. Present-moment focus works to increase a person’s awareness to ‘here and now’ versus the past or future. Cognitive defusion facilitates space between one’s thoughts, emotions, and body responses, i.e. chronic pain or neurodegenerative disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis. The self-as-context portion of ACT relates to an individual’s self-esteem, self-worth, and how they see themself in their life and the world. Committed action are those things that a person engages in every day that moves them towards their goals and from a larger perspective, their values. Values in ACT are those guiding aspects that keep us behaving or doing things in life. Values are broad and never-ending endeavors such as, love, health, and self-growth for example. Acceptance is the last pillar of ACT and, sometimes, the most difficult. ACT’s form of acceptance is a very active form rather than sitting passively waiting for life happen to you. Acceptance in this form is learning how to hold challenges as they arise and continue onward with your life journey and values. Acceptance in this form is learning how to hold distress and continue pursuing the things that matter in your life.
ACT and Human Suffering
ACT posits that human suffering is inevitable in life, even when pursuing one’s values. ACT supports a person in developing perspective taking, acceptance, and endurance skills for when suffering or stressors arise in one’s life so that they may still lead a fulfilling life. The decision then is to learn how to experience suffering not as something inherently ‘bad’ but something that will shape and mold you into a new form of yourself.
ACT isn’t just about positive thinking. It is an exploration of how we came to see people, things, or events the way they are (the good and the bad) and alter how we relate to these topics. It’s a way unravel the thought processes that get us stuck so that we live our lives to the fullest.
ACT’s treatment success
The research surrounding ACT increases every year. It has been shown to be effective treating chronic pain or other illness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction, and psychosis related disorders.
ACT therapist near you
If you are or know someone who would benefit from ACT’s therapy approach reach out to us. We offer a free 20-minute consultation call to ensure we are a good fit to work together.