What is Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)


Human living involves experiencing a variety of situations, events, and emotions.  Painful events such as loss, fear, and upset, occur.  We can struggle against these difficulties, and try and use our ability to think and reason (which is very useful for some areas of life) to overcome them.


We can try and get rid of them by trying to avoid the event that triggered them and remove the associated thoughts and emotions that we view as being negative.  However, "When it becomes important that we do not think or feel a certain way, and we nevertheless find ourselves thinking or feeling that way, our minds can become consumed with efforts to eliminate these experiences.  However, in the focused effort to eliminate these experiences, we tend to actually propagate and grow the very demons we wish to destroy" (p. 2 Luoma et al, 2007).


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, known as ‘ACT’ (pronounced as the word ‘act’) is a mindfulness based cognitive behavioural therapy that has a major emphasis on values, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion, living in the present moment, and accessing a transcendent sense of self.  

These skills are taught and practised in therapy to help clients create and live a rich and meaningful life guided by their values, while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it.  Barriers to valued living such as unwanted and difficult internal experiences (thoughts, images, sensations, memories) are identified and mindfulness skills taught as an effective way of coping with these and help us to change our relationship with them, thus reducing their impact and influence over our life.

ACT has proven effective with a variety of problems including pain, addictions, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and stress.