Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

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What is Acceptance & Commitment Therapy?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) stems from a mix of traditional behaviour therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). ACT helps clients accept situations that are out of their control and take actions to change situations that are within their control. When it comes to taking actions, ACT places a focus on values-based actions. This includes getting clear about what one values in their life, what matters to them, and what they want to be remembered for. Once clients are clear about their values, they can take the necessary steps to live a life that is aligned with these values.

ACT is rooted in the view that it is counterproductive to try to control or eliminate difficult emotions or psychological experiences. Instead, it employs acceptance, mindfulness and behaviour-change strategies to help the person be more present, clarify what is important to them, and ultimately live a more enriched life. Reach out to Bloor West Therapy today to learn more.

When ACT is Used

ACT has been used to help clients manage the following conditions, situations, and/or symptoms:

  • Social anxiety
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Workplace stress
  • Test anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Substance abuse
  • Diabetes
  • Self-esteem and body image issues

Frequently Asked Questions

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help someone to identify and change disruptive or negative thoughts and behaviours. ACT, on the other hand, uses elements of CBT but incorporates acceptance and mindfulness techniques while also placing a focus on values. It encourages the person to accept all emotions — good, bad or indifferent — rather than try to fight or change them. ACT is unique from CBT in the way it views pain and suffering. ACT recognizes that life inevitably includes pain and suffering. Rather than challenging this, the focus is on accepting the pain that we cannot change and living a meaningful life regardless of the suffering that comes with it.
Both of these types of therapies are used for depression and have research to support their efficacy. However, the type of treatment that works depends on the person and their unique circumstances. ACT may be particularly useful for those who tend to avoid their problems since it encourages the person to face and accept them.
In 1986, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) was founded by three psychologists: Steven Hayes, Kelly Wilson, and Kirk Strosahl. The goal of this approach was to combine behavioural therapy with covert conditioning. These psychologists, notably Steven Hayes, developed a series of protocols that became known as ACT.
There is a variety of evidence indicating the effectiveness of acceptance and commitment therapy. As previously mentioned, the effectiveness of any type of therapy depends on the individual being treated. However, ACT has shown to be effective for depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and more.
"It can be really scary to take the first step and start therapy. Don’t wait. One of the most consistent things clients say is that they should have done this weeks, months, years ago. At Bloor West Therapy, we guide you through it gently and support you every step of the way. Tell us about what is scary, and we can talk about it and address it."
Bloor West Therapy
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