Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was a form of behavioural therapy developed in the 1980s.

ACT is often thought of as being an offshoot of Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT). This is often referred to as a 3rd wave CBT-based approach.

The ACT therapeutic model helps us recognise and accept the challenge and discomfort we are experiencing. In this way, we can better bring clarity to our situation and develop value-driven strategies to best manage them.

When we run from our problems, we create distance from their solutions.

This approach aims to develop psychological flexibility when confronted with uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and memories.

How does Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) work?

Whereas every client experiences distress differently and will have their own unique value-driven direction they want to take, there is a basic framework that ACT seeks to adopt.


The first is mindfulness or deliberate and conscience awareness. To see with deliberate clarity what our present moment experience is.


One of the things that are learnt in ACT is the idea of Defusion or stepping back. Learning to detach from thoughts, images or memories. Not ignoring them or pretending they aren’t there.

We work on learning how to observe our thinking rather than becoming overwhelmed and tangled up in it.

The aim is to see our thoughts as a guide rather than something to be feared and dominated by.


If we are able to detach or defuse from our thoughts, seeing our thoughts simply as thoughts, it makes it easier to look at them and to reach a point of acceptance that this is how it is right now in this moment.

But remember that acceptance isn’t about resignation it will always be this way. ACT is also about a commitment to value-driven change to the extent that it is possible.

Observing Self

Then there is a slightly jargony term called self as context – sometimes called the noticing or observing self.

In ACT we aim to make enough room for those private experiences that may be unwanted or unpleasant: the unpleasant thoughts or feelings, urges and images, the memories from the past.

We aim to learn to notice those things without getting caught up in ruminating about them. So, we see or observe them and our experience of them, rather than getting caught up in engaging or getting caught up in them.

It is through this idea that principles like mindfulness can be developed.


How do we want to live our life? What do we want our life to stand for? How do we want to treat ourselves and others? What would we want to be remembered for?

The question of values is about helping to create a roadmap of how we would like to live our lives.

Committed Action

Making a commitment to make a value-driven change to the extent that these things are possible.

Commitment is an important part of the ACT model. It is through taking responsibility for your own path and finding ways to empower you to follow it that you are able to discover the greatest sense of inner well-being.

What can ACT help with?

ACT can be beneficial for a wide range of individuals.

Presentations that are often looked at when using ACT include.

If you are struggling with any of the conditions above or would like to speak to one of our team about Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), book an appointment with one of our team to discuss things further.

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