Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based behavior therapy. In contrast to Western-based psychological theory, ACT does not have symptom reduction as a goal. This is based on the view that an on-going attempt to eliminate symptoms causes psychological distress in the first place. Instead, the goal of ACT is to create a meaningful life while accepting the inevitable pain that goes along with it. As we work towards creating a meaningful life, we will encounter barriers. These barriers evoke painful thoughts and feelings, called “private experiences.” It our response to these private experiences that are labelled “symptoms.”
If we observe these private experiences with receptiveness and openness, we can understand that they are transient. Then, these thoughts and feelings become less disturbing. By achieving the goal of mindfulness through ACT, we enjoy the byproduct of eliminating symptoms.
Doing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is different than other therapies. It is not about getting over old traumas or painful feelings. It is about creating a meaningful, fulfilling life, which naturally results in reducing or eliminating the present-day effects of old wounds.
Melissa Rust, LPC, NCC
Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center