What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and how does it work?
If you’re looking for an effective form of therapy to help you manage your OCD, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) may be the right choice for you. ACT is a relatively new type of therapy that is growing in popularity. It focuses on helping you accept their thoughts and feelings while also committing to taking actionable steps to improve your life. This article will discuss what ACT is and how it can help you manage your mental health.
What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?
There are many different types of cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT), each of which has its unique approach. ACT is one of the most effective CBT therapies around, and it can be effective for a wide range of mental health problems.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a Cognitive-behavioral therapy that helps you change how you think about your problems. Thus, ACT teaches you how to accept what is happening in your lives, even if it is difficult or unpleasant, and commit yourself to make changes.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy has a mindfulness-based approach that helps you accept your thoughts and feelings without judgment. The goal of ACT is to help people develop a more flexible and compassionate attitude toward themselves to move forward in their lives with greater purpose and satisfaction.
People who practice ACT often find that they are better able to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as physical health problems like pain. They also report being more satisfied with life overall. Furthermore, ACT can be helpful for a wide range of mental health problems, including addiction, eating disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and schizophrenia.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy was developed by Steven Hayes, a psychology professor, in the 1980s. According to Hayes, the therapy he created is a progressive model that allows patients to deal with deeper clinical problems.
If you are interested in learning more about ACT, many helpful resources are available, including books, articles, and websites.
Why use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?
While traditional cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviors, ACT takes a different approach. Rather than changing the way you think or what you do, ACT helps you accept yourself as you are and focus on what is important to you.
It doesn’t mean that you have to like or approve of everything that happens in your life. Still, it does mean making peace with discomfort and understanding that discomfort is a part of being human. This process may involve setting goals and making plans to achieve those goals, learning new skills, or changing how you think about yourself and your life. Thus, this type of therapy can be a powerful tool for overcoming mental health conditions that have caused difficulty in your life.
Here are a few examples of the ways this type of therapy help you with:
- increase psychological flexibility and openness to change
- decrease suffering related to thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations
- develop a greater sense of self-awareness and understanding of one’s values
- increase mindfulness skills
- improve overall emotional wellbeing
Once you’ve learned to accept your complex thoughts and feelings, you can start to focus on what’s important to you. This moment is when the “commitment” part of ACT comes in. By clarifying your values and setting goals aligned with them, you can create a more meaningful life.
Who is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for?
ACT has been beneficial for people who have experienced trauma. It can help them develop a more accepting attitude towards their experiences and themselves. It can also help people who struggle with OCD, anxiety, or depression by teaching them how to better deal with complex thoughts and emotions.
The great thing about ACT is that people of all ages can benefit. Whether you’re a teenager struggling with anxiety or a senior citizen dealing with chronic pain, there’s a good chance that ACT can help you live a more fulfilling life. Of course, like any form of therapy, ACT isn’t a magic cure-all. Still, it can be a precious tool for many people for managing difficult emotions and experiences.
This type of cognitive-behavioral therapy can also be particularly effective with older adults. They may have more life experience and wisdom to draw on when understanding and accepting difficult circumstances. Older adults may further benefit from ACT as it focuses on present moment awareness and living following one’s values. Thus, it helps prevent feelings of regret or bitterness about past choices.
This type of therapy can be beneficial for them to better cope with these challenges. Therefore, ACT helps older adults focus on essentials and provides tools for living a more meaningful life.
If you are an older adult interested in trying out ACT, be sure to consult with a therapist who specializes in this type of therapy. Many resources are available online if you want to learn more about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
How does Acceptance and Commitment Therapy work?
As already mentioned, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a form of Cognitive-behavioral therapy that emphasizes accepting what is out of our control rather than trying to change it. The goal is to help you move toward a more fulfilling life by committing to values-based actions. Moreover, it makes you accept your thoughts and feelings and encourage you to commit to living your lives following your values. Thus, some fundamental principles of ACT include:
- Cognitive defusion: learning to see your thoughts as thoughts rather than facts. This aspect helps you step back from your thoughts and observe them without getting caught up in them.
- You should be present: living in the moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
- Self-compassion: treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and acceptance, even when making mistakes.
- Values: identifying what is most important to you and making decisions based on those values.
- Action: taking steps towards your goals, even when it is difficult.
These principles can be valid in many different ways, depending on the individual’s particular struggles. For example, someone who struggles with anxiety may accept their fear and anxiety as part of their life rather than fight it. This process may involve learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings without reacting to them.
Another example could be that someone who wants to change their life, such as quitting smoking, may expand their view of options. This process may involve brainstorming different ways to approach the goal and choosing the one that feels best.
The important thing is that the person is taking action based on their values, rather than what they think they “should” do or what others want them to do.
ACT involves becoming more aware of your thoughts and feelings and accepting them without judgment. You also learn to identify your values and take action according to those values. The purpose of this is to help you live a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
If you’re interested in trying ACT, there are a few things you can do to get started:
- Read up on the basics of the approach.
- Find a therapist who specializes in this type of therapy. You can also check out self-help books or online resources.
- Be patient and give yourself time to learn the skills.
It takes practice, but it can be well worth it.
Acceptance Commitment Therapy for OCD
One of the main goals of ACT is to help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and learn how to let go of unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. To do this, ACT therapists use various techniques, including mindfulness exercises and “talk therapy.”
Mindfulness is a practice that involves paying attention to your thoughts and feelings in the present moment without judging them. It can further help people with OCD because it allows them to accept the thoughts and feelings without getting wrapped up in them. Mindfulness can also help you learn to let go of unhelpful thoughts and behaviors.
Talk therapy is a type of counseling that involves talking about your problems with a therapist. ACT therapists often use this approach to help people explore the connections between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Consequently, this therapy can help you understand why specific thoughts or feelings trigger OCD symptoms.
Therefore, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy helps people deal with OCD in a few different ways:
- It shows you that your thoughts and feelings are not necessarily reality. It can be particularly tricky for people with OCD because their obsessions often feel very real. Acknowledging that these thoughts are just part of the disorder can help reduce their power.
- It encourages people to commit themselves to live a meaningful life despite their OCD symptoms. Moreover, you might need to accept that some things will always be challenging due to OCD. It is important to note that this does not mean giving up on treatment or managing OCD on your own. Instead, it is about finding a way to live as fully as possible despite the challenges OCD presents.
- This type of therapy also helps you learn to tolerate uncertainty and discomfort. It’s another challenge for people with OCD because they often want certainty and control over their lives. However, this is not possible when living with OCD. ACT teaches people to accept that some things are out of their power and find ways to cope with this uncertainty.
These techniques can help manage OCD symptoms and improve quality of life. Suppose you’re curious about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or you’re looking for new ways to manage your OCD symptoms. In that case, this approach may be right for you.
Acceptance and commitment therapy vs. DBT?
It is already clear that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on helping people accept their thoughts and feelings rather than trying to change them. It also allows people to commit to goals and values vital to them.
On the other hand, DBT, or dialectical behavior therapy, is another cognitive-behavioral therapy initially developed to treat borderline personality disorder.
DBT’s main aim is to help people learn how to regulate their emotions, tolerate distress, and improve communication skills. DBT might be helpful for some other mental health conditions as well.
Both ACT and DBT involve accepting complex thoughts and feelings, but there is a critical difference between the two therapies. ACT focuses on helping people live meaningful life despite their struggles. At the same time, DBT also includes training in specific skills like emotion regulation and distress tolerance. Thus, DBT is more focused on treating specific mental health conditions than ACT is. However, both therapies can be helpful for anyone looking to improve their mental wellbeing.
So, which approach is right for you? The answer may depend on your specific needs and goals. If you’re struggling to accept your thoughts and feelings, ACT may be a good option. If you’re struggling to cope with difficult emotions, DBT may be a better fit. Ultimately, the best approach is the one that works for you.
Thus, both acceptance and commitment therapy and dialectical behavior therapy can be beneficial in helping people manage their mental health conditions. If you’re considering either of these therapies, talk to your therapist to see if it would be a good fit for you.
How long does Acceptance and Commitment Therapy last?
There is no universal answer to this question, as the duration of therapy will vary depending on the individual and the specific goals they are hoping to achieve. Many people complete their course between eight to sixteen weeks, with sessions lasting around an hour.
Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. Some people may need to continue attending ACT sessions for longer to achieve their desired results. However, even in these cases, the therapist will typically work with the client to gradually reduce the frequency of sessions over time.
During these sessions, patients will work with their therapist to identify their values and effectively take action. So, how can you make the most out of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy? Here are a few tips:
- Be open to trying new things: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is about expanding your comfort zone and trying new things.
- Be patient: Change takes time. Don’t expect miracles overnight. Give yourself some time to adjust to the new way of thinking and behaving that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy requires.
- Persist: Don’t give up if you don’t see results immediately. Remember, change takes time. If you stick with it, you will eventually see the benefits of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in your life.
- Be mindful: One of the main goals of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is to increase your awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. So, make sure you take the time to be aware of what’s going on in your mind and body. This awareness will help you make better decisions and live a more meaningful life.
Finally, acceptance and commitment therapy can be an extremely effective way to improve your quality of life. Still, it’s important to receive individualized care that meets your specific needs.
A final word on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for OCD
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is becoming an increasingly popular treatment for OCD. This type of therapy can be very effective in helping people manage their symptoms and live a more fulfilling life.
If you’re considering Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for OCD, it’s essential to talk to your therapist to see if it would be a good fit for you. Make sure to ask any questions about the therapy and be open to trying new things. You can make significant progress using ACT for OCD with time and patience.
If you need support on your recovery journey, you are more than welcome to join our OCD community. We are here to offer you encouragement and understanding.
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Hello, I am Jonas Eriksson. I suffered from severe OCD for many years and have now recovered. My OCD is related to an autoimmune disorder called Autoimmune basal ganglia disorder. Sadly I was undiagnosed for 27 years. The inflammation put my brain to be in a state of constant terror. By sharing helpful information, I hope someone will get motivated to seek treatment and learn more about OCD and related disorders.