Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
“To become a butterfly, you must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”
Winnie – the – Pooh
We’ve been taking an in-depth look at Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) since early August, August 12, 2021, to be specific.
As I’ve covered in previous mental health musings, I am certified in EMDR, but find that it is a treatment that is contra-indicated for online therapy. As such, I’ve felt compelled to find an alternative treatment modality that I could offer to my clients online, those who struggle with past trauma, and, indeed, could be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
And yes, ACT is an amazing treatment modality for PTSD, but, as I’ve immersed myself into ACT training myself, I’ve come to understand that it’s a very effective therapy model for many issues, such as depression, anxiety, and other mental health / emotional health issues.
So, now we are at Stage 6, noted below. Let the games begin!
6 Core Psychological Flexibility Processes
Stage 1 – Acceptance, to allow unwanted states/events/experiences to come and go without fighting them.
Stage 2 – Defusion, to stop trying to make these states/events/experiences “concrete,” but, instead understanding that they are abstracts.
Stage 3 – Present Moment, to be aware of the “here and the now.”
Stage 4 – Contextualized Self, to become intimate with the authentic self, the “real” self, as it is consistent and constant in life.
Stage 5 – Values, to identify what is most important to you.
Stage 6 – Committed Action, to identify and set goals based on one’s own values, and carrying them out responsibly, to lead to a meaningful, fulfilled life.
Every week as I write this blog, I look for just the perfect quotation that applies to whichever stage we are working on. This week, I was enchanted by the quote by Winnie-the-Pooh, as I’ve been a fan my entire life, and have debated with friends which is better…Disney’s Classic Pooh or Disney’s Animated Pooh. Honestly, it doesn’t matter, suffice it to say that I love Pooh, period!
So this week’s quote, about leaving the caterpillar behind to become the butterfly resonated with me.
Now that we’ve moved into the “final” stage in ACT, let’s take a brief overview of what is actually “accomplished” in committed action.
- We need to understand that there is an actual difference between a choice and a decision.
- We also need to understand that our values are crucial in helping us create specific life goals that work for US.
- After we’ve identified some of the goals, we need to identify or itemize or outline (whatever word or construct you want to use) the actions needed to accomplish these goals.
- And finally, we need to ALSO identify, itemize, outline the things that can actually undermine or “get in the way” of these committed actions…or these goals.
And to ask and find answers for the question of “What can ACT do for me?” I’ve shared that I found my way to ACT after my practice became exclusively online. I am certified in EMDR, and had used that treatment modality for clients who came to see me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, after I transitioned to online therapy, first with betterhelp, and then with my private practice, Five Tribes Therapy, I realized that I needed (to continue to hold myself to the highest of ethical principles) offer my clients an alternative therapy to EMDR. I was no longer comfortable being separated by a computer screen and variable distance from my client, as clients can and have dissociated during the processes of EMDR. In the course of my research, I “discovered” ACT. I was pleased to find out that ACT was very effective in working with clients who struggle with PTSD.
And as I delved further into the concepts of ACT, and began writing my blog again, “Mental Health Musings,” I included “chapters” pertaining to ACT. And then I started to understand that ACT was applicable and appropriate, indeed, pertinent, for people who struggle with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and even medical conditions, which we in the profession call comorbidities, such as substance abuse, chronic pain and diabetes, just to name a few.
So here we are today. I’ve written seven blogs, starting on
- 08.12.21 An initial orientation to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
- 08.17.21 Stage 1 – Acceptance
- 08.24.21 Stage 2 – Defusion
- 08.26.21 Stage 3 – Present Moment
- 09.02.21 Stage 4 – Contextualized Self
- 09.07.21 Stage 5 – Values
- 09.14.21 Stage 6 – Committed Action
We’ve reached the end of our journey, at least as far as the LEARNING about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and now the real fun begins 😉 The actual DOING of ACT.
“You always have two choices: your commitment vs. your fear.”
Sammy Davis Jr.