Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) advocates a focus on the importance of acceptance when dealing with difficult emotions and troubling thoughts. It aims to help you to get to a place where you can openly experience thoughts, feelings and/or bodily sensations and not be controlled by them. It is through accepting the unwanted thoughts and feelings, as opposed to battling with them, that you become better able at focusing more clearly on the present and to take action towards leading the kind of life you truly want to live in accordance with your values.
In ACT, treatment focuses on six core processes:
- Acceptance of private experiences (i.e. willingness to experience odd or uncomfortable thoughts, feelings or physical sensations)
- Emotional distancing (i.e. observing one’s own unwanted thoughts without automatically taking them as truths or attaching any particular value to them)
- Being present (i.e. directing attention to present external and internal events rather than automatically being drawn to the past or the future)
- A perspective-taking sense of self (i.e. being in touch with a sense of ongoing awareness)
- Identification of personal values
- Commitment to action in order to achieve goals in line with personal values
ACT is found to be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety disorders, such as OCD, phobias and generalised anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, trauma, couples distress and personality disorders.