steven hayes and workshop attendee seated

What is acceptance and commitment therapy?

ACT co-founder Steven C. Hayes performs an ACT role-play with an event attendee

ACT challenges some of the most culturally ingrained forms of conventional thinking about human problems. Research indicates that ACT’s methods and ideas are generally sound, which provides reassurance that these concepts and procedures are effective.

ACT asks us to consider: Psychological pain is normal, it is important, and everyone has it. You cannot deliberately get rid of your psychological pain, although you can take steps to avoid increasing it artificially. Pain and suffering are two different states of being. You don’t have to identify with your suffering. Accepting your pain is a step toward ridding yourself of your suffering.

You can live a life you value, beginning right now, but to do that you will have to learn how to get out of your mind and into your life. Ultimately, what ACT asks of you and your clients is a fundamental change in perspective: a shift in the way you deal with your personal experience. ACT is a therapeutic modality can’t promise that this will quickly change what your depression, anger, anxiety, stress, or low self-esteem looks like, at least, not anytime soon. We can, however, say that our research has demonstrated that the role of these problems as barriers to living can be changed, and sometimes changed quite rapidly. ACT methods provide new ways to approach difficult psychological issues. These new approaches can change the actual substance of your psychological problems and the impact they have on your life.

See also: How Do I Choose the Right ACT Training for Me?

ACT is about mindful action: action that you take consciously, with full awareness—open to your experience, and engaging in whatever you’re doing. The aim of ACT is to increase one’s ability for mindful, values-guided action. The technical name for this ability is psychological flexibility. ACT focuses on the substance, not the appearance, of problems. Learning to approach your distress in a fundamentally different way can quickly change the impact it has on your and your client’s lives.

Check out our upcoming ACT trainings!