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Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

What is ACT?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) encourages people to accept the things in life that are out of their control (such as experiencing difficult feelings, thoughts or life circumstances) and commit to working towards a life that is meaningful and fulfilling through positive action.


It is common for people to try and avoid difficult emotions or thoughts, by pushing them away, using distraction or trying to numb the experience (e.g. through behaviours such as bingeing/ alcohol or drug use).


Whilst avoidance may occasionally be a helpful strategy, in the long term it can often be unhelpful as it leads to the repression of emotions or problems not being faced. In ACT mindfulness and acceptance based techniques are taught to aid the acceptance of difficult emotions and thoughts. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment and there is increasing evidence that it can lead to improved happiness and contentment. The commitment element of the therapy involves identifying important values for the individual and exploring how they can live a life in line with those values. 


What does ACT involve?

  • Exploring how someone has coped with difficult feelings, thoughts or experiences before, and whether these strategies have been helpful or unhelpful in the long term.

  • Learning strategies to experience the full range of human emotions and thinking patterns with a compassionate, open, and accepting perspective.

  • Exploring an individuals values by clarifying what is important to them and their future goals.

  • Taking commited action to make positive change in line with someone's values.

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