Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Over the past four years I have been increasingly using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ideas and techniques and finding them effective in helping clients move beyond their symptomatic difficulties into a more valued and conscious life. The symptoms with which we have dealt include depression, anxiety and even chronic physical pain, but the emphasis of the treatment is to help clients escape the habits of mind that trap them in these symptoms, and be able to concentrate more attention on values and life activities that make life more worthwhile. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can often be effective with clients who have tried other treatment approaches and found them insufficiently helpful.
ACT begins with an exploration of how language itself sets us up for a lot of unnecessary suffering in life. Like fish swimming in water without noticing it, we think in our language without realizing how it shapes our reality. The power of language encourages us to believe the thoughts that arise in our minds without any question or challenge. Taking “thoughts” and stories about ourselves as factual truth (ACT calls this being “fused” with our thoughts) traps us in ways of seeing the world that perpetuate unhappiness. What’s worse, our language and culture condition us to avoid experiences we find unpleasant, not realizing that as this “experiential avoidance” becomes more pervasive, it make worse the very conditions we were trying to get away from in the first place.
ACT applies an understanding of these two damaging by-products of language –- “fusion with thoughts” and “experiential avoidance” –- to help people with many different kinds of human difficulties. Clinical research has demonstrated that ACT is effective with depression, anxiety, psychosis, chronic pain and other clinical syndromes. A summary of research outcomes can be found by clicking on the word “here”.