Many of our therapists specialize in using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT – pronounced like the word “act,” not the individual letters – a-c-t). Most often our psychologists use an approach based in ACT called Acceptance-Based Behavioral Therapy (ABBT).
What is ACT?
ACT is one of the “third wave” psychotherapies that has evolved to use mindfulness-based techniques in the course of treatment to help clients with whatever they may be struggling with.
ACT is comprised of 6 core processes:
- Defusion: The idea behind defusion is getting some distance from your thoughts, feelings, and emotions so that you’re not wrapped up in them and so that you don’t let them push you around so much. Clients will learn to see thoughts as just a bunch of words put together in a sentence. Clients learn that just because they have a thought doesn’t mean they need to do anything about it. Often clients are living their lives in reaction to thoughts, feelings, and emotions, instead of their values (see below). With defusion, you learn to observe thoughts and emotions come and go without reacting to them.
- Acceptance: This core aspect of ACT focuses on helping clients become more tolerant of difficult thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Clients learn that to be human is to feel a whole range of emotions. Typically we try to problem-solve away our emotions or difficult thoughts, but with ACT we learn to let them be. This is helpful in changing the brain’s response to problematic emotions and thoughts. We begin to feel calmer when certain thoughts, feelings or emotions arise as we become more accepting of them.
- Contacting the Present Moment: This part of ACT focuses on helping clients stay focused on the here and now. Clients learn to become curious and aware of what their experience is moment to moment with interest and curiosity vs. judgement. This helps emotionally as our brains often are taking us into the past and future, two areas we don’t have much control over.
- Self-As-Context: This is a principle of ACT that focuses on having clients learn and become aware that they are a vessel that carries thoughts, feelings, and emotions that come and go. Clients learn to tap into their “observing self” versus their “thinking self” using this principle of ACT.
- Values: Clients spend time in therapy learning about what truly matters to them in their life. This is a beautiful aspect of ACT as it helps individuals learn how to connect with areas of their life that really matter to them. Dr. Doshi likes to refer to this as self-care. Clients begin to attend to what they’re really needing on a deeper level.
- Committed Action: This is when clients take steps to move in the direction of their values in order to commit to living a life that they truly care about. This can be a scary step and our psychologists will be there to help with every step along the way. To live a life you truly care about, do you need to have difficult conversations? Do you need to end a relationship? Do you need to try something again that you failed at in the past? Do you need to look for a new job? Sometimes to really feel fulfilled, we need to make big changes. Sometimes we just need to make small changes. No matter how big or small the change, Dr. Doshi will help you along the way.