Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an action-oriented approach to psychotherapy that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies. It was developed in the 1980s by the psychologist Stephen C. Hayes, and evolved from traditional behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
ACT is largely based on the principles of mindfulness, acceptance, and values. ACT’s philosophy compliments Villa Kali Ma’s emphasis on using mindfulness skills, inner commitment, and our personal values to guide treatment and the path to recovery. When we learn to stop avoiding, denying, and struggling with our inner experience, we are able to engage in behaviors that are in alignment with our goals, our truth and our best self.
The objective of ACT is not to get rid of difficult feelings, it is to be present with what life brings and to “move toward valued behavior”. ACT invites us to open up to unpleasant feelings, learn not to overreact to them, and not avoid situations where they are triggered. When we learn to understand, tolerate, and accept our emotions, we develop the freedom to choose the actions that support a meaningful and healthy life.
Wisdom involves learning to accept the things that we can not change, and to move forward anyway. Whether it be a situation or person you cannot control, a past event, a personality trait or an emotion that overwhelms, accepting it can allow you to move forward. Obsessing, worrying and playing things over and over keeps you stuck. Acceptance gives you the peace and freedom to work with what you have and live in gratitude and authenticity.
FEAR vs. ACT
A core concept in ACT is that psychological suffering is usually caused by experiential avoidance. When we are avoiding reality, we can’t take the behavioral steps or make the other changes that support our well-being. ACT views the nature of many problems to be represented in the acronym, FEAR:
• Fusion with thoughts (Believing all of our thoughts are true)
• Evaluation of experience (Judging our feelings as “good” or “bad”)
• Avoidance of your experience (Through numbing, lashing out, or denial)
• Reason-giving for your behavior (Giving reasons or excuses for our harmful behavior)
And the healthy alternative to FEAR is to ACT:
• Accept your reactions and stay present
• Choose to align with your core values
• Take action
Psychological Flexibility is a personality trait that describes the extent to which a person can cope with the unexpected, and think about or respond to problems in new and creative ways. This trait is used when stressors or unexpected events occur, requiring a person to change their approach to meet the demands of the present moment. When we develop psychological flexibility we can better adapt to the stresses of life and commit to positive behaviors.
6 Core Principles of ACT
ACT uses six core principles to help clients develop psychological flexibility.
1. Cognitive defusion: Learning methods to reduce the tendency to internalize negative thoughts, images, emotions, and memories.
2. Acceptance: Allowing unwanted or uncomfortable experiences (thoughts, feelings and urges) to come and go without struggling with them.
3. Contact with the present moment: Mindfulness! Awareness of the here and now, experienced with openness, interest, and receptiveness.
4. The observing self: Accessing a transcendent sense of self, a continuity of consciousness which is unchanging.
5. Values: Discovering what is most important to us and letting that lead our lifestyle and decisions.
6. Committed action: Setting goals according to values and carrying them out responsibly, in the service of a meaningful life.
ACT skills are just one of the amazing recovery tools you will be introduced to at Villa Kali Ma.
Join us today to begin your journey to freedom!