What is ACT
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT, is a mindfulness-based treatment modality. In recent years, mindfulness-based treatment has earned growing empirical support as a highly effective treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other anxiety spectrum disorders, including hypochondria, social anxiety, and Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs). Mindfulness-based treatment is easily integrated into the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) framework. Additionally, mindfulness-based approaches are effective as stand-alone treatment modalities for OCD and other anxiety manifestations.
So, what is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy? ACT, as a mindfulness-based treatment, is a framework to help people better accept their true reality, while clarifying their values and pursuing a life that truly matters to them. It’s a hybrid of mindfulness and behavioral treatment.
ACT can be broken down into its two main components, Acceptance and Commitment.
Acceptance in ACT
Acceptance in ACT is truly acknowledging your present moment as it is in reality. Of course, reality is in contrast with fantasy, which is anything other than what’s actually happening “right now.” Unfortunately, even at this exact moment while reading this, your reality may include some anxiety and unwanted thoughts. To have a life without these thoughts and feelings in it is a fantasy. Anxiety is a natural human emotion and thoughts are intrinsic to having a human brain. Luckily, however, you are not your thoughts and feelings!
ACT helps clients to mindfully acknowledge (accept) what they are feeling and thinking without running from it. Clients soon learn that anxiety is not the enemy. Anxiety is just a fleeting, albeit annoying, feeling that doesn’t actually have any power unless given to it.
Commitment in ACT
Think of Commitment as “taking intentional steps to living the life you really want to live.” In the grips of anxiety and OCD, people do things they don’t care about (compulsions and avoidance) instead of doing things they actually want (living your life). Once they learn that they don’t have to do anything their thoughts and feelings say, then they are free to pursue their true passions. After all, getting back to their life is why they (and perhaps you, the reader) are seeking therapy in the first place!
If you are interested in learning more about ACT, or scheduling an appointment, please contact me.
The California OCD and Anxiety Treatment Center offers specialized therapy for OCD and anxiety related disorders in its Fullerton offices. In addition to serving North Orange County, Los Angeles, and the Inland Empire, CalOCD offers online therapy, group therapy, and Intensive Out-Patient treatment.