ACT is a therapeutic intervention based on the idea that psychological suffering is part of being human. Therefore, by accepting what is out of our control and committing to action on the things we can control, we can improve and enrich our lives.
What does it look like?
With the aim of increasing psychological flexibility, ACT uses six core principles. Cognitive defusion helps us create distance and space between ourselves and our thoughts by encouraging us to step back, observe our thoughts, and acknowledge the transientness of them. Acceptance helps us to allow and make room for unpleasant and uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, sensations, urges and other internal experiences without avoiding or giving them undue attention. Contacting the present moment helps us to let go of worries about the future or ruminations on the past, and bring our full awareness to the present moment with openness, interest and receptiveness.
The observing self helps us to observe our thoughts, feelings, sensations, urges and other internal experiences without experiencing them directly. Values help us to clarify what is most important and meaningful to us, what kind of person we want to be and what kind of life we want to live. Committed action helps us to set goals that are in line with our values and take effective action to achieve them. ACT is typically provided over 5-20 weekly or fortnightly 50-minute sessions (or however many sessions you require), which include homework tasks, and can be used in combination with other interventions.
How effective is it?
ACT is a well-researched and established therapy that has been found to be effective for many disorders, including OCD and anxiety disorders.