What is ACT?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, always pronounced ACT,  is an evidence-based therapy that mixes mindfulness, values, and behavioral activation in order to build psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility, like physical flexibility, allows you to bend easily when life asks you to bend. 

ACT  is a "third wave" cognitive-behavioral therapy because it is based in mindfulness with a focus on helping people to directly change thoughts and feelings by changing their relationship to these private experiences, rather than trying to change the form, situational sensitivity, or content of these experiences.  The emphasis is on becoming effective in one's life and away from working to feel good. The emphasis, then, is on learning to accept these internal experiences for what they are, simply thoughts, feelings, sensations etc. that do not have to drive one's life.

During our sessions, we will look at the ways ACT works with unhelpful patterns of thinking using acceptance (being open and aware of your internal experiencing, such as thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations etc., without necessarily having to act on it), thought defusion, and mindfulness interventions. Mindfulness alone has been shown in recent meta-analyses to produce large effects for those diagnosed with anxiety and depression. ACT uses mindfulness strategies in innovative ways—combining both relatively traditional mindfulness practices with other in-session interventions that involve momentary touching of mindfulness processes within ongoing therapeutic work. ACT’s defusion strategies often provide active and surprising alternative means of working with difficult cognitions.

One thing that has been well demonstrated in the psychological literature is that activity is good medicine. In ACT, behavioral activation occurs with values and commitment work. ACT eases you back into the stream of life, focusing on getting you active in large and small ways in domains of living that are meaningful to you. Because of its roots in the behavioral tradition, ACT involves shaping patterns of activation. We begin where you are, no matter how restricted, sometimes starting with the tiniest engagements in lived values. Over time, we help you to actively author growth in valued domains of living.

In general, psychotherapy covers a period of 26 weeks but this varies from client to client and much depends on what you put into your personal work outside of the therapy sessions.  There are 168 hours in a week; if you only put one hour into moving toward the psychological change you are trying to achieve, nothing much will happen.  Expect to be given homework and know that we expect you to do it.  Homework will take many forms ranging from mindfulness and awareness exercises to journaling to fun experiential tasks.  All are planned to help you restructure your public (5-senses experiencing) and private (mental experiencing) behaviors.  You will get out of this work exactly what you put into it. Let's get you out of your mind and into your life!

The Act Hexaflex:


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