Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a mental health intervention used to increase psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility allows an individual to live more fully in the present moment, allowing them to modify or maintain beneficial behavior. ACT therapy involves six primary processes: acceptance, cognitive defusion, being present, self as context, values, and committed action.

Each of the ACT processes is considered to be a psychological skill as opposed to an avoidance mechanism. Acceptance involves not avoiding a feeling or emotion. For instance, an individual with an anxiety disorder is taught to face the feeling of anxiety without defense. Another primary process “being present” promotes interaction in a psychological and environmental context with a non-judgmental outlook. This is achieved by using language more objectively, noting events, and making observations as opposed to predicting and judging. All the processes work to promote psychological flexibility. By working with the six primary processes, confronting and dealing directly with negative thoughts and other challenges becomes a smoother process.