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What are the Benefits of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy?

The benefits of ACT therapy can help your decision-making process if you’re considering Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for your mental health needs. This unique therapeutic approach encourages accepting negative thoughts and feelings rather than avoiding them.

Developed in the 1980s, ACT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with the understanding that suppressing inner discomfort can lead to various mental and physical issues. ACT promotes psychological flexibility, where individuals accept their thoughts and act according to long-term values rather than short-term impulses. It has gained recognition for effectively treating a wide range of psychological conditions, supported by ongoing research.

In this blog, we will understand the key benefits of ACT therapy, highlighting its process and potential. Read on to discover if ACT is right for you.

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) encourages embracing emotions and thoughts without judgment and staying present in the moment. In ACT, you learn to welcome your feelings and thoughts as they arise without trying to change or control them.

Experts stated that ACT is founded on the premise that illness, pain, disappointment, grief, and anxiety are inevitable aspects of human existence.

This therapy highlights mindfulness, which involves staying focused on the present and observing your thoughts and emotions without criticism. Developed by Steven Hayes and colleagues in the 1980s, ACT promotes psychological flexibility, helping individuals face challenges instead of avoiding them. For example, instead of pushing away painful experiences, ACT teaches you to acknowledge and learn from them.

ACT uplifts you to make decisions based on your long-term values rather than reacting impulsively. Techniques in ACT, such as acceptance, self-compassion, and mindfulness, help you reduce stress and anxiety by embracing all your experiences.

Overall, ACT guides you to live authentically and in tune with what truly matters to you.

How Does ACT Work?

ACT helps us understand why we feel the way we do by focusing on our inner dialogue and how we talk to ourselves and others about our experiences. By breaking down these thought patterns, we become more aware of our issues and how they affect us.

Alongside building awareness and acceptance, ACT guides us to find practical ways to handle our challenges. It encourages us to ask:

“How can we live our best life despite the circumstances?”

Therapists help us identify changes we can make in our behavior that align with our values. When change isn’t possible, they teach us acceptance and “cognitive defusion”—a way to change how we react to our thoughts and feelings. This helps us let go of unhelpful worries and focus more on the present moment.

ACT also involves committing to stop struggling against our emotions and instead concentrate on actions that reflect our values and aspirations. It’s about moving forward in a meaningful way, even in the face of difficulties.

ACT therapy works  in stages of:

● Acceptance

Start by accepting your emotions and feelings, even when they feel complicated or overwhelming.

● Direction

Commit to moving forward positively without dwelling on the past.

● Action

Take charge and actively choose to follow the positive path you’ve set for yourself. Stay strong and resilient through life’s ups and downs.

What can ACT help with?

ACT can help with managing depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. It is effective in addressing issues such as psychosis, chronic pain, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Moreover, ACT can help you find your core values and find ways to align your actions with them, which leads you toward a more meaningful life.

Studies have found ACT helps with a variety of psychological conditions:

● Anxiety

ACT is effective for anxiety. A therapist helps you accept both the anxiety itself and the emotional struggles it brings. Research shows ACT works as well as CBT for anxiety disorders and can even be effective in self-help contexts.

● Depression

Instead of fighting against negative thoughts, ACT helps you accept them as usual. This lets you see them for what they are—thoughts, not truths. Then, you can start working towards the life you want, even while experiencing depression.

● Addiction

ACT also holds promise as a treatment for various addictions. People struggling with addictions often harbor deep-seated, distressing thoughts and emotions. ACT helps individuals understand and confront these emotions openly.

While not effortless, this process is crucial. Addictions frequently serve as coping mechanisms to avoid or numb emotional pain. Acknowledging and accepting our pain as a natural part of life, its power over us diminishes.

● Psychosis

Using ACT to treat psychosis is a fascinating benefit of ACT therapy. A study found ACT led to higher symptom reporting and lower belief in symptoms. Notably, people who completed just four ACT sessions had half the re-hospitalization rates compared to those who did not receive ACT.

What are the Benefits of ACT Therapy?

Besides being effective in treating many different problems, ACT has various benefits. Some major benefits of ACT therapy are:

1. ACT Improves Life Despite Symptoms

ACT helps improve people’s lives, regardless of their symptoms. Constantly fighting symptoms can lower your quality of life. ACT recognizes this and aims to improve life quality, whether symptoms improve or stay the same.

2. Upgrading Life Through Small Steps

There are always small steps we can take to make our lives better, even when some things are out of our control. ACT shows us we are more than our illness. It teaches us how to live a meaningful life based on our values, even if we have a mental illness. This understanding can reduce symptoms.

3. Realizing Personal Value Despite Challenges

The six core principles of ACT—acceptance, cognitive diffusion, mindfulness, self-awareness, values, and committed action—make us more flexible in how we think and live our lives. These principles not only assist us in managing our current therapy condition but also prepare us to handle future challenges more effectively.

Moreover, ACT acknowledges that negative experiences are a natural part of life. Avoiding these experiences can make our suffering worse. ACT encourages accepting negative experiences, which changes how we respond to them. We can still change them when possible. Instead, it helps us make positive changes more effectively by working with our minds rather than against them.

FAQs: Benefits of ACT therapy

Que: What is ACT therapy good for?

Ans: Currently, the American Psychological Association recognizes the ACT as an effective treatment for depression, various anxiety disorders, psychosis, chronic pain, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Que: Who finds ACT most helpful?

Ans: ACT is particularly effective for anxiety. If you’ve experienced anxiety, you know the ongoing emotional battle it entails. A therapist assists in accepting both the anxiety itself and the emotional struggles that accompany it.

Que: How does ACT training benefit you?

Ans: ACT training helps you focus on creating a meaningful life and learning skills to reduce the impact of distressing experiences.

Que: What are the drawbacks of ACT therapy?

Ans: ACT mainly focuses on the present and may not be the best approach for addressing past traumas. While it recognizes how past experiences can affect mental health now, its primary goal is to empower patients with tools for the present moment.

Que: Is ACT good for anxiety?

Ans: Both CBT and ACT are similar and help treat anxiety disorders effectively.

Conclusion

There are various types of therapy that can support your journey towards improved mental and emotional well-being.

ACT stands out as one of the most promising therapies in our experience. There are various benefits of ACT therapy, where it can effectively treat a range of conditions, either alone or in combination with other treatments.

Contact your healthcare provider to learn more and determine if ACT is right for you.

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