Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT, said as one word, “act”) is a therapy built upon a foundation of scientific research and which utilizes mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness involves bringing our focused attention to the present moment with an attitude of openness. Mindfulness provides a rich source of information about what is happening in the present so that we can be more responsive and intentional in how we live our lives.
Researchers have been studying mindfulness as a therapy intervention for over 30 years, and it has had a tremendous impact on the field. There is research support for the use of mindfulness in treating stress, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, addiction, and a number of other psychological problems.
Although we often don’t have control over our thoughts and feelings in a given moment, the cultivation of mindfulness allows us to learn to relate to our thoughts and feelings more effectively. They no longer become barriers to living a valued life.
Traditionally, mindfulness has been taught through meditation and many therapies and counseling practices continue to emphasize meditation as a means to cultivate mindfulness. In ACT, however, there is a greater emphasis on helping people develop mindfulness through a wide variety of techniques. ACT therapists may use meditation; however, they may also draw from other more informal means of teaching and strengthening mindfulness.
ACT therapists utilize a number of therapeutic tools to help people become more mindful. Some of these techniques take only a minute or two to contact mindfulness. Others may take longer.
Within the ACT model, there are six core process. Three of these encompass basic mindfulness skills:
- Defusion: Through defusion, we learn to observe our process of thinking, rather than being caught up in it. It’s a way of looking at the content of our thinking as a opposed to buying into it completely.
- Acceptance: Acceptance or willingness involves actively choosing to be with painful feelings, allowing them to come and go without struggle.
- Contact with the present moment: Contact with the present moment allows us to connect with our experience right now, with an attitude of openness and curiosity.
Through the cultivation of these skills, we learn to step back and observe what’s going on in our internal and external world. In ACT, we call this place the observer self.
From the observing self, we can look at our thinking, feelings, and bodily sensations. We become more in contact with our five senses: touch, taste, hearing, sight, and smell. As we contact our observer self, we may find we have more choices in how we respond to painful experiences.
ACT is a creative and innovate approach to behavior change. It draws from the rich tradition of Western psychotherapy, particularly the emphasis on scientific research. However, ACT therapy also shares similarity with other mindfulness-based therapies and with Buddhism, although it is not based specifically on Buddhism. ACT is not rooted in any particular religious tradition.
Instead, ACT represents a modern psychology of human behavior that is based on the scientific method.
ACT may be delivered as a brief, short-term theory, or it can be used to explore long-term goals. The number of sessions depends on the goals of the individual.
If you’ve been looking for a professional ACT Counselor in Portland, Oregon, our clinic is the center for ACT treatment and training.
At Portland Psychotherapy we are committed to helping people disarm anxiety, depression, and other life problems so that they can live fuller and more meaningful lives.
Our approach is active and focused on our clients’ values and specific life situations. More than helping people to feel better, we want to help them live better.
We follow the latest research and contribute to the field with original research of our own.. As a clinic, we strive to bring this knowledge to our work with clients.
Our practitioners offer ACT treatment, as well as other types of psychotherapy focusing on a wide array of problems. Our goal is to work effectively with others from a place of compassion.
For more information about our clinic and the services we offer, feel free to contact us. If you would like to talk to someone for an initial consultation, you can leave a phone message on our confidential voice mail at 503-281-4852. We’ll return your call shortly. You may aslo contact us through our website.
We look forward to your call.