What is ACT therapy?
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a psychotherapeutic approach developed by Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D. Over the last 40 years, ACT has become a widely used, evidence-based behavior therapy accepted by and researched across a number of organizations.
ACT is an integrated, evidence-based, and action-oriented psychotherapeutic approach that uses mindfulness, acceptance, and behavioral change to help individuals more skillfully access their feelings and achieve more mental flexibility – all of which can lead to less suffering.
With ACT, the goal is to increase psychological flexibility by helping individuals cultivate core processes that lead to reduced distress.
These processes include cultivating more acceptance, cognitive defusion (distancing yourself from the distress using cognitive interventions – not repression), cultivating presence and mindfulness, exploring Self as Context, identifying and living according to values, and taking committed action.
So how does ACT therapy work?
ACT believes that it’s unhelpful to suppress, deny, or repress painful emotions. Therefore, with ACT therapy, the goal is to help clients face their reality, and accept their reality and all the attendant feelings of that reality, while also being curious about any behavioral changes that might be possible to improve the situations of life.
Indeed, the abbreviation of ACT succinctly describes what takes place in therapy: accept the effects of life’s hardships, choose directional values, and take action.
A therapist who uses ACT will weave these core principles into each therapy session using a wide range of tools and customized interventions such as mindfulness exercises to help you become more aware of your somatic experience and your feelings; cognitive tools to help distance yourself from the distress you’re facing; Socratic questioning to help you clarify your values; possible homework in between sessions to help you practice skills and tools you learned, and more.
Why is ACT therapy effective at treating trauma?
ACT can be helpful in trauma therapy treatment since it helps a client face – not avoid or repress – their feelings (a foundational piece in any trauma recovery work).
ACT also, in phased, titrated ways, helps bring attention to the continuum of a client’s emotional experience and helps them begin to safely and appropriately access and express the feelings that may be present as a result of their trauma history, allowing them to grieve and make meaning of the past.
Moreover, as much as ACT supports individuals in facing challenging emotional states that may be part of their life, ACT also focuses on building and enhancing life quality, supporting an individual to build a stabilized, connected, and enriching life even as trauma history and symptoms are worked through.
What issues can ACT therapy address?
ACT can effective in treating a broad range of issues, including:
- Attachment Trauma
- Betrayal Trauma
- Birth Trauma
- Childhood Trauma
- Complex Trauma
- Developmental Trauma
- Eating Disorders
- Emotional Abuse
- First Gen Trauma
- First Responder Trauma
- Grief and Mourning
- Intergenerational Trauma
- Medical Trauma
- Military/Combat Trauma
- Narcissistic Abuse
- Pre- and Post-Natal Trauma
- Racial Trauma
- Relational Trauma
- Relationship Strain
- Religious & Spiritual Trauma
- Sexual Trauma
- Vicarious Trauma
- And more...
FAQ’s about ACT
Here at Evergreen, our therapists customize interventions for every therapy session. What this means is that, even if your therapist is trained in ACT and uses it to help treat your case, they will likely draw from other interventions and methodologies to help achieve your clinical goals, too.
This is such a great question and a very common one. There’s a big difference between accepting your reality and being resigned to it versus accepting you are where you are and being curious, engaged, and actionable about taking values-aligned action to help you change, transform and improve your reality. That’s what ACT can support you with.
It’s not possible to guesstimate how long clinical treatment will take without insight into your case. That’s why it’s best to schedule a complimentary 20-minute consult call with our clinical intake coordinator to get matched to a great fitting therapist who can offer more insight into your question about the treatment timeline after they get to know you, your case, and your goals better.
What if I’m Not Ready?
If you don’t feel quite ready to book a complimentary consult call yet, that’s completely fine.
We don’t want you to feel pressured and we know that the choice to seek out therapy can feel difficult.
Part of you wants to do it, and another part of you is, perhaps, scared to begin because of the feelings you might have to finally feel.
Or a part of you questions whether or not you can even be helped at all.
Whatever the reason, no matter how ready or not ready you feel to begin therapy, we want you to have the information you need to make an informed choice.
So, to that end, please explore the additional information below to learn more about us and how we can help you.
We’ll be here whenever you’re ready to reach out for support.