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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Our Treatment Approach 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based therapeutic approach that provides patients at Insight the skills they need to deal with difficult thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Instead of “changing” or “getting rid of” one’s sad or painful thoughts, feelings and emotions, ACT emphasizes flexibility — encouraging us to connect with our chosen values — even in the presence of negative thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Used extensively in mood disorder and anxiety disorder treatment here at Insight, the goal of ACT is to help patients create a rich and meaningful life while also being able to accept the pain that inevitably comes with life.

What is ACT?

The process of ACT is at the heart of its acronym:

A:  Accept your thoughts and feelings
C:  Choose a valued direction, or move towards something you value
T:  Take Action
 
In other words, ACT effectively addresses two key questions in the recovery journey:

  • What do you want to move towards in your life? What motivates you?

  • What stands in your way?  What thoughts and events are hindering you from living the life you want to live?

Guided by Insight’s compassionate clinical experts, ACT helps people learn how to accept their thoughts, feelings and emotions—even the sad, painful ones. This approach helps our patients understand that humans have very little control over what comes to mind. ACT helps to increase our awareness of the ways that our mind works and teaches practical skills for tolerating the pain that all humans inevitably experience.

ACT for anxiety and mood disorders

ACT is particularly effective in addressing mood and anxiety disorders because it addresses “experiential avoidance” — one’s tendency to avoid difficult thoughts, feelings and emotions. Experiential avoidance tends to be high in patients struggling with mood and anxiety disorders. ACT teaches individuals to replace experiential avoidance with helpful, values-consistent behaviors to move towards a life worth living.
 
Values work is very important in ACT and helps patients:

  • Identify what they want their lives to stand for

  • Create more certainty in the direction they are taking

  • Set goals and decide on actions that will help them move toward their values

Instead of one’s unpleasant thoughts, feelings and emotions driving their actions, one learns how to notice, neutralize, allow or release them in order to make choices in alignment with their chosen values.

ACT for trauma

Insight recognizes how ACT effectively addresses the needs of those in treatment for trauma. Insight’s patients are given the tools to change their relationship with difficult trauma emotions so they are free to make the choices that will move them towards their valued lives. ACT specifically includes each of the components of PTSD treatment that are known to have the most effective outcomes in managing symptoms that occur following a trauma:

  • Psycho-education

  • Anxiety management

  • Exposure/tolerance/acceptance work

In addition, ACT targets both mood and anxiety symptom management and stabilization.
 
In summary, ACT is a simple yet powerful therapy that can bring patients to new places and support lasting recovery from mood and anxiety disorders and trauma-related conditions. Reach out to us to learn more about treatment with ACT.

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