ACT is derived from CBT and similarly assumes our thought processes influence our feelings and, in turn, our behaviour. CBT suggests that problematic behaviours or conditions result when thoughts become distorted, often producing uncomfortable feelings, for example, fear, shame or anger. This leads to unusual, repetitive or obsessive behaviours as an attempt to alleviate or control the distorted thoughts and feelings.
ACT differs from CBT in the techniques used to change problem behaviour which are mindfulness, acceptance of what is beyond individual control and commitment to living by personal values. CBT challenges negative or distorted thoughts by examining whether there is any real evidence for them, for example, "No-one likes me". ACT, on the other hand, works through acceptance of distorted thoughts and uncomfortable feelings, reduces their impact and eventually let them go. Mindfulness and the 'defusion' technique involves stepping back from negative thoughts, effectively providing distance from them. Acceptance, rather than resistance, allows thoughts and feelings to flow in and out more freely, instead of struggling.
ACT is used by ACT-trained psychotherapists and counsellors.
ACT, DBT and MBCT are sometimes referred to as 'third wave' behaviour therapies which are all based on CBT, but incorporate acceptance and mindfulness in their treatment techniques. Third wave treatments focus on specific behaviour changes and achievement of specific goals. Like CBT, they use a more directive approach than some other therapies, such as person-centred therapy, or psychodynamic psychotherapy. This means the therapist or counsellor, rather than the client, leads the treatment. This may suit some individual personalities and preferences more than others.
ACT is used to treat depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, PTSD, anorexia, and chronic pain.
ACT can be flexibly delivered to suit individual circumstances:
Short -term treatment - four sessions, each lasting one hour
Medium-term treatment – eight sessions
Long-term treatment – around 40 sessions, each lasting two hours
If you would like to see someone about ACT please do call us on: 0203 326 9160