The aim of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a to create a rich, full, and meaningful life and to apply acceptance to the pain that inevitably comes with it.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an evidence-based, mindfulness-based therapeutic modality that is garnering a lot of attention lately. It is being called the “third wave” in behavioral and cognitive therapy (Hayes, 2004). One of the main therapeutic concepts of this modality is that pain and suffering are different and that pain is inevitable, but suffering is not. Pain is experienced by all individuals throughout life – circumstances, thoughts, feelings, they can all lead to pain. Suffering is our response to pain. Certain unhelpful responses to pain can increase suffering. Acceptance of pain is a step toward reducing suffering. Values are another important tenant of ACT. Clarifying and having a deep awareness of one’s life values helps to decipher what is workable and helpful in one’s life and what is not.
There are six therapeutic principles that make up ACT. These principles are aimed at psychological flexibility, which means focusing on the present moment mindfully and based on that awareness changing or persisting in behavior in the service of chosen values. In other words, deciphering whether something is working for you and then moving toward or away from it. Psychological flexibility places emphasis on one’s response to painful emotions, thoughts, and situations, understanding that the most workable response is birthed from acceptance and mindfulness.
The six principles: acceptance, defusion, self-as-context, values, committed actin, and mindfulness. The following posts will go more in depth into each therapeutic principle and how to apply it to every day life and healing.