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"Uncovering the 6 Core Ideas of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)"


What is ACT anyway?

ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on helping individuals develop psychological flexibility, enabling them to effectively handle painful thoughts and feelings while living in accordance with their values.


How does it work?

A big part of ACT are it's 6 core processes, and it revolves around working with one at anytime in your life. If you ever feel stuck with one point, it's easy to simply switch to another concept and work from there. This makes ACT special compared to other kinds of therapy because of it's non linear nature, where other therapies have stricter sequences and steps to go through.

The six key components of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) are essential because they collectively form a framework for promoting psychological flexibility and well-being.


Here are the 6 core processes of ACT:


  1. Acceptance: Picture this: you're walking in the rain without an umbrella. Instead of running from the raindrops, you accept that you're going to get wet. In ACT, acceptance means facing your difficult thoughts and emotions head-on, without trying to push them away or ignore them. It's like saying, "Hey, I see you, and that's okay."

  2. Cognitive Defusion: Ever had a thought that wouldn't stop buzzing around in your head? Cognitive defusion helps you see those thoughts for what they are – just words floating around in your mind. It's like watching clouds passing by in the sky. You realize that thoughts are just thoughts, not facts that you have to believe.

  3. Being Present: Sometimes, we get so caught up in worrying about the future or dwelling on the past that we forget to enjoy the present moment. Being present means tuning into what's happening right here, right now. It's like savoring a piece of your favorite chocolate cake, noticing every flavor and texture without thinking about anything else.

  4. Values Clarification: Think of your values as your inner compass – they guide you in the direction you want to go in life. Values clarification helps you figure out what truly matters to you. It's like sorting through a treasure chest to find the gems that shine the brightest. Once you know your values, you can make choices that align with them.

  5. Committed Action: Imagine you're climbing a mountain. Committed action is taking one step after another, even when the path is steep and rocky. It's about setting goals based on your values and then taking small, steady actions to reach them. Like a gardener tending to a seed, you nurture your goals until they bloom into reality.

  6. Self-as-Context: You are not defined by your thoughts, emotions, or experiences. Self-as-context is seeing yourself as the sky that holds the ever-changing clouds of your mind. It's like realizing that you're the author of your story, not just a character in it. With this perspective, you can observe your thoughts and feelings without getting swept away by them.

How should these concepts be approached?

It's important to note that these 6 practices aren't separate. All 6 are reliant on each other, and should feel flexible to approach. If you ever feel like you're struggling with one concept, you can always go to another concept and start somewhere else. Each concept relates to each other, so understanding one with make understanding the rest feel more easier and enlightening.

It's like the top 6 sides of a diamond, the diamond representing how flexible you are psychologically. This flexibility is shown through our ability to be fully aware and open to our experiences at act according to our values, which gives us greater quality of life. The stronger the 6 sides are, the more stable the diamond is.

This is because we respond a lot better to problems and challenges life will no doubt throw at us. When we fully engage in our lives and allow our values to guide us, we start developing a deep sense of meaning and purpose, as well as experiencing a great feeling of being "alive".


How do I know when ACT is working?

Although not a feeling, ACT aims to give the user a sense of being fully alive and embracing the present, regardless of how you might be currently feeling. This sense is called "Vitality", and is used a lot when using / talking about ACT.

In a nutshell, ACT teaches you how to ride the waves of life with grace and courage. It's about embracing the ups and downs, finding your true north, and taking meaningful steps forward, one breath at a time. So, the next time life throws you a curveball, remember your ACT toolkit – it's got everything you need to weather the storm and sail on.

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