Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT):
Don’t be put off by the name! It’s usually simply called ‘Act’ (rather than A.C.T.), which is a really appropriate name, as it’s a very active form of therapy: It doesn’t just involve sitting and talking, but also actively learning new skills that will help you to handle difficult thoughts and feelings, so they have less impact on your life, as a result, you’ll feel less pushed around by them. In addition, you’ll explore what’s really important to you in terms of the values that matter to you, rather than rigid rules that may restrict you. This can then inform the action you take to build a life that’s rich and meaningful to you; helping you to be the person you want to be.
I suspect many clients don’t notice quite how radically different Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is from the majority of psychotherapy approaches. ACT is a relative newcomer, initially developed during the 1980s as a mindfulness-based behaviour therapy with a focus on taking action in accordance with your personal values. It has now gone on to established itself as a well researched* therapy, able to help people with a wide range of difficulties, including anxiety and depression.
The following sentences give a bit more information about how ACT works, but remember it’s an active, experiential form of therapy. As such, reading about it is no substitute for experiencing it!
Western psychology has largely assumed psychological distress to be the result of a deviation from a ‘healthy normality’, and as a result, it has sought to relieve the symptoms of mental ‘illness’. ACT considers that normal psychological processes can be painful and damaging, and thus lead to distress and suffering, and also that efforts to be ‘symptom free’ can compound such pain and suffering. As a result, ACT does not have symptom reduction as a goal. But, paradoxically, symptom reduction usually occurs through the development of ‘psychological flexibility’ that arises from a combination of six core processes in ACT:
- Defusion - A process that enables us to be less ‘caught up’ in our thoughts, and thus less controlled or pushed around by them.
- Acceptance - A starting point and an active process, rather than a passive ‘putting up with’, it provides a healthy alternative to avoidance of difficult thoughts and feelings.
- Present Moment - The only moment we truly have, yet we spend some much time caught up in the past, or worrying about the future.
- Observing Self - An ever-present part of us, a continuity of consciousness that is able to notice thoughts, feelings or sensations.
- Values - These guide us and help us to be the person we want to be, but are easily confused with rules or goals.
- Committed Action - Ultimately, ACT leads to committed action in line with our values and towards developing a rich and meaningful life.
As a therapist, I love the flexibility that ACT offers; sessions can be very fluid, moving through any or all of the above processes. It’s also very active, with experiential exercises that can often be practiced in-between sessions; in fact most sessions will end with something to take home and work with, or some positive action to take.
*Research studies from around the world have shown ACT to be helpful with a wide range of clinical conditions, either on its own, or as part of a larger treatment program, these conditions include anxiety, depression, OCD, stress, chronic pain, PTSD, anorexia, addictions (to substances such as marijuana and heroin) and schizophrenia.
If you would like to find out more about my practice, please click on the 'Home' link at the top of the page, or click on 'Services' to find out more about the range of problems and conditions I am trained to help with.
I am available for consultations by appointment at Snowsfields Wellness Clinic, 41 Snowsfields, SE1 3SU - 9:30am to 6:30pm (last appointment, or 7:30pm on Tuesdays).
Please call 07831-693684 for an appointment, or send me an e-mail (there's a link at the foot of this page).
Appointments last for up to one hour and cost £75.00.
At least 24 hours notice is required when rescheduling or cancelling appointments, otherwise the full fee will be charged.
Clients attending Snowsfields Wellness Clinic may pay by Credit or Debit card, before 6:30pm. Alternatively, payments can be made by cash.
I will always try to accommodate clients who have difficulty in affording my fees as I believe a lack of funds should not prevent people receiving professional therapeutic help. In these situations, I offer reduced rates at certain times on Fridays, please mention your needs when making an appointment.