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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Image by Sarah Dorweiler
Image by Brett Jordan

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, ACT said as one word, is a type of third-wave cognitive behavioral therapy that emphasizes the development of psychological flexibility and the acceptance of internal experiences that cannot be controlled. The therapy helps people accept thoughts and feelings as a way to move forward and make meaningful changes in one's life.

ACT is based on the idea that people experience psychological suffering when they struggle against or try to avoid their negative thoughts and feelings. In contrast, when people accept these experiences as a natural part of the human condition, they can begin to make choices that align with their values and move towards a more fulfilling life.

ACT focuses on clarifying one's values and setting goals that align with those values. The therapy aims to help people identify and modify patterns of behavior that are not in line with their values while also helping them learn to accept and tolerate unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that may arise during the process of change.


ACT has been shown to be effective for a range of mental health concerns, including but not limited to anxiety, depression, OCD, and chronic pain. The therapy often involves a combination of mindfulness exercises, which involve bringing one's attention to the present moment without judgment, cognitive defusion techniques, which help individuals distance themselves from negative thoughts and emotions, values clarification exercises, and behavioral changes. 

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