What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT, is a type of psychotherapy that helps people who are struggling to handle difficult situations or emotions. Instead of trying to change the problematic thoughts, feelings, or events in their life, ACT teaches people to work with the things they can't change.

One of the difficulties with traditional behavior therapy, which tries to change problematic thoughts and behaviors, is that it can become overwhelming for certain people. They may avoid difficult situations or feelings, or turn obsessive as they try to find a solution. ACT solves this issue by instead teaching patients to just accept problems for what they truly are. Uncomfortable thoughts and feelings are simply allowed to exist. Patients are taught to be mindful and present in the moment, and to defuse their problems in order to make them more manageable. There is also a focus on personal values and positive action as a way of moving forward without getting paralyzed by problems.

ACT has been scientifically shown to be effective for a variety of mental health issues, including:
  • Depression
  • OCD
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Stress
  • Substance abuse
  • Chronic pain and illness

It can be an excellent choice for people who are feeling overwhelmed by other types of therapy, or who are particularly anxious or prone to avoidance or obsession.