What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?

Ronald Siegel
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an "acceptance-based" therapy that is increasingly used to treat a remarkable range of psychological difficulties. While it doesn't explicitly teach mindfulness meditation (awareness and acceptance of your present experience), ACT helps people to see that their thoughts are just thoughts, rather than reality, and to see themselves as the observer of the thoughts rather than as the "thinker." It also helps patients to accept their constantly changing kaleidoscope of pleasant and unpleasant experiences and to redirect their lives toward whatever provides meaning. ACT has been shown to lower the need for rehospitalization of psychotic patients, lessen social anxiety, reduce disability due to pain, aid smoking cessation, and reduce high-risk adolescent sexual behavior.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) gets it name from one of its core messages: to accept what is out of your personal control, while committing to do whatever is in your personal control to improve your quality of life. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) focuses on 3 areas:

- accept your reactions and be present
- choose a valued direction
- take action.

For those who find that suppressing or controlling their anger leads to a vicious cycle of greater anger and aggression, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) might be able to help.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT, is an alternative to positive psychology, which focuses on how people can achieve happiness. Therapists following this vein think that positive psychology places too much emphasis on happiness for an average person. Instead, they say people must deal with the good and the bad in life. They focus on exploring past experiences to define what shapes a person's outlook on life.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.