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What Is ACT?

a person emotes signaling their asking the question "what is act ?"

Finding the right type of therapy to help you through the early stages of therapy can be overwhelming. With more therapy options than ever before, you might not know where to start. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is becoming a popular choice among counselors and therapists helping people with addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions. But what is ACT?

The Canyon offers ACT for clients in our Santa Monica, California, addiction treatment center. Learn more about our addiction therapies and substance abuse treatment programs by calling 424.465.5182 today.

What Is ACT?

Acceptance and commitment therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies combined with commitment and behavior-change strategies. This approach helps individuals to increase psychological flexibility, which is the ability to be fully present in the moment without judgment or avoidance.

ACT is not about eliminating difficult feelings; rather, it’s about finding a way to live a valued life while accepting those feelings. It’s a therapeutic approach designed to help individuals live more fully in the present, more focused on important values and goals, and less dominated by destructive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

How Does ACT Work?

ACT works by using six core principles: cognitive defusion, acceptance, contact with the present moment, observing the self, values, and committed action.

  • Cognitive defusion – This technique helps to reduce the tendency to reify thoughts, images, emotions, and memories
  • Acceptance – This involves the active and aware embrace of those private events occasioned by one’s history without unnecessary attempts to change their frequency or form
  • Contact with the present moment – This is about being psychologically present: directly experiencing here and now
  • Observing the self – This involves accessing a transcendent sense of self; a continuity of consciousness that is unchanging
  • Values – Discovering what is most important to oneself
  • Committed action – Setting goals according to values and carrying them out responsibly

Through these principles, ACT looks to promote psychological flexibility, allowing individuals to engage in their lives in a way that is congruent with their personal values and goals, even in the presence of challenging experiences.

The Benefits of ACT

ACT has a broad range of benefits. Here are some of them:

  • Improved psychological flexibility – ACT helps individuals to respond to challenging situations with awareness and openness instead of reacting in a rigid or inflexible manner.
  • Reduced distress and worry – By teaching acceptance and mindfulness techniques, ACT assists individuals in managing and reducing symptoms of distress and worry.
  • Enhanced life quality – ACT encourages individuals to identify their values and take actions that align with these values, thereby enhancing overall life quality.
  • Increased resilience – Through ACT, individuals learn to accept difficult situations and emotions, leading to increased resilience and the ability to bounce back from adversity.

These are just some of the potential benefits of ACT. Starting an ACT program is the only true way to know if this form of therapy is right for you.

What to Expect in an ACT Program

In an ACT program, you can expect to engage in various therapeutic exercises designed to increase your psychological flexibility. These may include mindfulness exercises, metaphorical exercises, experiential exercises, and values-guided behavioral interventions.

The therapy sessions will often involve open conversations about your experiences, feelings, and values. Your therapist will guide you through the process of accepting difficult emotions and thoughts, defusing negative thinking patterns, and committing to actions that align with your personal values.

Remember, the goal of ACT is not to eliminate negative feelings but to learn how to accept them and not let them control your life. You will learn to make room for pain, distress, and other uncomfortable feelings and to respond to them in adaptive ways that allow you to live a fulfilling life aligned with your values.

Start an ACT Program at The Canyon

The Canyon offers an ACT program for addiction recovery and mental health stabilization. Our staff helps clients through a series of therapeutic exercises to increase psychological flexibility and assist in overcoming difficult emotions and behaviors that accompany substance use disorder.

If you are interested in starting an ACT program or learning more about the therapies offered at our Santa Monica, California, addiction treatment center, contact us at 424.465.5182 today.