Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

ACT is an evidence-based approach (that has been proven to be highly effective through research with different populations and clinical conditions) which is gaining popularity because of its usefulness for a wide range of emotional difficulties. Most of us assume that we should always be happy in life, and that emotional suffering is something that should be avoided or eliminated because it is uncomfortable. So we use all sorts of distraction and avoidance techniques in an effort to not experience this suffering. Unfortunately what tends to happen is that these uncomfortable emotions and thoughts bounce back at us at different times despite our best attempts to 'get rid' of them. And the more we try to 'fix' ourselves, the more frustrated we become.

Common thoughts and beliefs which cause us pain include feeling anxious, feeling inadequate, feeling overwhelmed, feeling not good enough or depressed. Some feelings are more difficult to describe, such as a sense of emptiness or lack of vitality. ACT assists us to willingly accept that painful thoughts and emotions so they have less impact and influence on us, which involves use of mindfulness techniques. ACT breaks mindfulness down into different aspects including defusion (distancing ourselves from painful thoughts, feelings and memories), acceptance (willingly experiencing these thoughts, feelings and memories), and grounding (connecting with the here-and-now experience).

The values aspect of ACT assists us to identify what is most important and meaningful to us in our lives, and to use this information to inspire us in the future. It seems that most people feel happiest in life when they are living in line with their values, and feeling a sense of fulfilment in working toward the things closest to their heart. ACT also has strong emphasis on self-compassion and non-judgement.

The wonderful thing about using ACT strategies is that no matter what is thrown at you in life, you have the skills to ride any storm, which brings with it a huge sense of self-reliance."