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ACT uses mindfulness and acceptance skills to help individuals respond to uncontrollable experiences with behavior that is more consistent with their personal values and goals.

A therapy model where clients learn to accept their inner thoughts, emotions and sensations and begin to practice psychological flexibility which is demonstrated by more adaptive behaviors.  ACT teaches individuals to deal with their emotional and mental struggles through a balance of acceptance of their problems and encouraging them to move toward more adaptive change.

The ACT model predicts people will be most effective when able to practice:

  • Acceptance - Accept automatic thoughts, sensations and urges without denying them.

  • Cognitive Defusion – A technique to change how you react to thoughts and feelings.

  • Being Present – Practicing being aware of the present moment.

  • Self as Context – Your Self is more than what you are feeling at the present moment.

  • Values - Clearly articulate your values because they influence the actions you take.

  • Committed Action – be willing to engage in actions that help you reach your goals (How does Acceptance, 2019).

In contrast to most Western psychotherapy which is based on a medical model, ACT does not have symptom reduction as a primary goal. This is based on the belief that the attempt to get rid of symptoms can actually cause a clinical disorder. As soon as individual’s experience is labeled a symptom, they begin to fight against that symptom in order to eradicate it. In ACT therapy, a person would look to have a new relationship with their difficult thoughts and feelings, change their perspective on them as harmless, albeit uncomfortable, transient psychological experiences. It is through this process that clients utilizing an ACT modality actually achieves a reduction in their psychiatric symptoms.

Dr. Steven Hayes Interview

Dr. Hayes is Nevada Foundation Professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada and the author of 46 books and over 625 scientific articles. He is the developer of a new approach to human thought, Relational Frame Theory, and has guided its extension to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) a popular evidence-based form of psychotherapy that is now practiced by tens of thousands of clinicians all around the world. Dr. Hayes has been President the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. He was listed by the Institute of Scientific Information as the 30th “highest impact” psychologist in the world. Dr. Hayes is the author of many seminal books including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and my favorite Acceptance & Mindfulness Treatments for Children & Adolescents: A Practioner’s Guide. In August, Dr. Hayes released his new book A Liberated Mind. Whether you are a client or therapist, I encourage you to read his new book.


Click the links below to find out more about ACT.






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