Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy began shaking up the field of CBT almost 30 years ago when its burgeoning body of research findings departed from the premise that behavior change required the correction of distorted thoughts. Rather than concerning itself with distorted thought content, ACT identified an entirely new therapeutic objective: change the way clients relate to their thoughts and other private experiences (e.g., feelings, memories, bodily reactions), and they can learn to be free from their grip, enjoy increased psychological flexibility, and break the patterns that prevent them from living an adaptive, flexible, and meaningful life.

ACT incorporates acceptance strategies, mindfulness, and cognitive defusion techniques (noticing thoughts, looking at them rather than from them, and learning how to let thoughts come and go rather than holding onto them), to help clients make more adaptive contact with thoughts, feelings, memories, and physical sensations that have been feared and avoided. Essentially, this comprises learning to let go of the struggle to control unwanted thoughts and feelings. The resulting increase in psychological flexibility allows clients to develop greater clarity about their personal values, and commit to the behavior change needed to begin moving in valued directions. In sum, ACT is about both acceptance and change. It is the acceptance of the thoughts and emotions that accompany a difficult but valuable act that allow you to take that action.

The data on ACT and related approaches such as DBT and FAP are moving CBT itself toward a new model that emphasizes being open, centered, mindful and actively pursuing values. Because of that, ACT and CBT as a larger tradition are becoming more difficult to distinguish over time.



1) Review of early empirical support:
2) Meta-analysis of efficacy studies:
3) Recent review of empirical support of ACT, along with a component analysis and outcomes:


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