Six Pieces To The Act Puzzle
There are six basic themes you will learn about through ACT:
- Values What are your values and how can you live your life by them?
- Action Create concrete and practical goals to help you be the person you want to be.
- Cognitive fusion What thoughts are messing with you and how can you give less power to them?
- Acceptance Rather than avoiding or changing things that cant be changed, how can you learn to live with the negative things in your life?
- Observation Learn how to take a step back and reflect on what is going on in your head.
- The present Learn how to be more connected to the present moment rather than obsessing about the past or the future.
These themes are expanded on below. I have used a common metaphor from ACT to hopefully explain everything in an easy to remember package.
Choose A Direction After Rehab
In this step of therapy, you begin to take charge. You have now gained autonomy over your life and have selected a healthy path forward. You are now ready to proceed with the best of your life. Drug addiction and alcoholism are setbacks, but they do not need to destroy your dreams. Finding the right rehab can help you find direction in life.
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Is Acceptance And Commitment Therapy Right For Me
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an empirically-based form of psychotherapy with proven results. Its a good course of action for all kinds of people.
Generally, the focus on acceptance in ACT makes it less suitable for people in particularly dangerous situations, such as those in abusive relationships or with behavioral problems that may be a health risk, for them or others.
But, by and large, ACT offers a number of great psychological tools for staying present, staying calm, and staying committed to a life in recovery. If youre interested in building a path forward by building a new, more loving relationship with yourself, then Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is right for you. As an addiction treatment therapy, ACT can help you improve self-esteem, goal-setting, and stress-resiliency.
Ready to talk to a treatment specialist? Contact us today at to learn about our flexible treatment programs for drug and alcohol addiction.
Acceptance And Commitment Therapy For Addiction
ACT was invented by Dr Steven Hayes, of the University of Nevada. Hayes also came up with Relational Frame Theory , a theory of language. He describes RFT as a major inspiration for ACT.
The central thesis of ACT is that psychological flexibility is key to overcoming difficulties. This holds true in the treatment of substance use disorders , where psychological flexibility is a means of navigating life without resorting to substances.
ACT for SUDs helps patients come up with effective strategies for dealing with difficult situations, whether they be cravings, negative emotions or conflict.
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Acceptance And Commitment Therapy At Flatirons Recovery
ACT is part of our holistic clinical approach to addiction treatment at Flatirons Recovery. In addition to using ACT with our clients, we also offer clinician trainings in ACT that are open to therapists and other healing professionals in our community. We integrate ACT with a wide array of other mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions, including DBT, art therapy, nature/adventure based therapy, EMDR, yoga, motivational interviewing, and equine therapy, among others to treat a wide array of substance use and mental health disorders. Flatirons Recovery provides clients the opportunity to begin their healing process from substance use/dual-diagnosis disorders on 30-, 60-, and 90-day tracks. We provide a sober living residence for clients to live in a supportive, structured, healthy environment while taking part in our Day Treatment and Intensive Outpatient programs. Over the course of their time with Flatirons Recovery, clients can expect to be introduced to new many new skills to develop their personal foundation for recovery.
Acceptance Commitment Therapy And Addiction
One of the biggest benefits of ACT is the therapys aim of building cognitive flexibility.
This mental trait represents a persons ability to cope with, accept, and adjust to difficult thoughts or situations. And several studies have linked it with an improved quality of life and reduced levels of stress.
Cognitive flexibility allows someone to stay rooted in the present moment while keeping their own thoughts in mind. They can then proceed in a way that best aligns with their values and goals. Essentially, flexibility helps people switch their focus to longer-term plans and deal with the present moment accordingly. This is key to addiction treatment therapy to focus on the present first.
The emphasis on mindfulness and self-acceptance also helps ACT patients foster a sense of self-compassion another powerful tool in addiction treatment therapy.
Especially helpful in the early stages of recovery, this type of self-love not only helps people better manage their emotions and cravings but helps build higher self-esteem and reduce self-criticism. This is a critical component of sustainable sobriety.
All told, the teachings and strategies imparted by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy are meant to help people learn from their emotions. They can begin to see their emotions not as a thing to be feared but as a natural extension of their living experience.
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A Brief History Of Acceptance And Commitment Therapy
Brought on by Steven C. Hayes in 1982, and first tested by Robert Zettle in the late 1980s, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a behavioral approach built on the foundation of Relational Frame Theory. In addiction treatment, this theory focuses on the importance of understanding how recovering individuals form relationships in their inner experience. Hayes and his colleagues began testing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a method used in addiction treatment during the 2000s. This form of therapy has been highly effective in treating substance use disorders in conjunction with other forms of treatment, such as group therapy and medical care.
History And Origins Of Act
The history of acceptance and commitment therapy is rooted in the work of the famous psychologist B. F. Skinner, who described radical behaviorism. He stated that private events like thoughts and feelings could be analyzed along with more observable, measurable events. He believed these events had reinforcers that made an event more or less likely to be repeated in the future.
In the 1980s, Dr. Hayes expanded upon Dr. Skinners idea that language can reinforce behaviors. From this, Dr. Hayes developed relational frame theory, which describes how language helps people relate to their world.
Relating to the world through language is a process that begins early in childhood. This process gives us, for example, the words and the ability to describe the way we can relate a bagel to a tire: a bagel has the same shape, a different size, a different color and is edible. The words same, different or is/is not create the relation, and the concepts of shape, size, color and edibility create the frame.
So how does that relate to acceptance and commitment therapy? In the earlier example, the but in the clients statement and the and in the therapists statement demonstrate a difference in the relationship a client can have with a thought or behavior. Instead of frantically trying to control them, the patient can accept that a thought or behavior may indeed be destructive or harmful. This can allow the patient to be more flexible and commit to positive changes more readily.
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Making Commitments To Action
Commitment to action is the most practical element of the ACT program. The journey of recovery requires actions of commitment based on the values youve identified and established in yourself. Commitment to actions can be small goals you make at the beginning of the day, or broader goals over a month or a year. The self-awareness and presence of mind that youve practiced will help you stay true to these commitments. This is why each element of ACT is so essentialaccepting, de-fusion, presence, self-awareness, and value each contribute to staying true to the actions you commit to.
Similar Articles In Pubmed
- Neurophysiological mechanisms in acceptance and commitment therapy in opioid-addicted patients with chronic pain.Smallwood RF, Potter JS, Robin DA. Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2016 Apr 30 250:12-4. Epub 2016 Mar 8.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy versus cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of substance use disorder with incarcerated women.Lanza PV, García PF, Lamelas FR, González-Menéndez A. J Clin Psychol. 2014 Jul 70:644-57. Epub 2014 Jan 21.
- .Lantheaume S. Encephale. 2018 Sep 44:387-391. Epub 2017 Sep 1.
- Review Acceptance and commitment therapy for anxiety and OCD spectrum disorders: an empirical review.Bluett EJ, Homan KJ, Morrison KL, Levin ME, Twohig MP. J Anxiety Disord. 2014 Aug 28:612-24. Epub 2014 Jun 23.
- Review A review of technology-assisted self-help and minimal contact therapies for drug and alcohol abuse and smoking addiction: is human contact necessary for therapeutic efficacy?Newman MG, Szkodny LE, Llera SJ, Przeworski A. Clin Psychol Rev. 2011 Feb 31:178-86. Epub 2010 Oct 21.
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Contact The Present Moment
Right now a moment of time is passing by! We must become that moment.Paul Cezanne
This is the one that most people need to practice, a lot. Sure it is important to think of the past, in order to learn from your mistakes or just remember the good times. It is also important to think of the future and build plans, or enjoy the anticipation of a future holiday.
However, people who are struggling in their lives tend to spend too little time in the present moment. A depressive individual will spend days stuck in shameful or painful memories an anxious person will spend days worrying about the future.
Drug and alcohol abusers often use their substance of choice to block these thoughts, with potentially dangerous results. ACT encourages people to practice just being in the present moment. This practice is not limited to sitting down and focusing on you breathing, but to do it while gardening, washing dishes, working on the car etc. The more practice the better, but even five minutes a day being mindful while you eat or have a shower is better than nothing.
For the final part of the bus analogy, the driver would be driving extremely mindfully. They would acknowledge that some of the passengers would occasionally say unhelpful things, without getting pulled out of the present moment. They would realize that the past and future have important roles to play in the life of the bus, but would not spend any longer than necessary dwelling or worrying about either.
How Act Therapy Works
According to the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science , ACT is a unique empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility.
With ACT, clients become more mentally adaptable and develop mindfulness skills and self-acceptance. With the goal of accepting a greater variety of thoughts and feelings, learning the act of commitment is essential. In the course of the therapy, clients commit to actions that allow them to embrace challenges such as those associated with addiction and mental health. The ACBS sees ACT as a foundational therapy based on the concept that suffering is a natural and inevitable condition for humans. Humans have an instinct to control their experiences, but this instinct is never truly possible and does not always serve clients.
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What To Expect In Acceptance And Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy aims to help recovering individuals to discern between thoughts and behaviors. Becoming cognizant of ones inner experiences allows the individual to change them in a positive and impactful way. Commonly, we find ourselves living on auto-pilot, not taking the time to be mindful of our inner dialogue. For example, theres a method in ACT referred to as singing and silly voices.
In this method, an individual takes a stressful negative thought and sings it within an easy popular tune . Instead of a tune, the patient can replace their normal voice with a humorous cartoon-like voice. The goal of this exercise is to assign less meaning to the thought itself and understand the power you have to manipulate thoughts in a way that serves you rather than hurts you.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy also aims to help recovering individuals reinterpret past painful events, recognize harmful behaviors, and address the emotions that often co-occur with addiction such as depression and anxiety. A major component of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy also includes the identification of values and commitment to actions that are aligned with those values.
Misconceptions About Acceptance & Commitment Therapy
One common misconception about acceptance is that it means giving up or resigning yourself to a life of suffering, but thats not the case.
Acceptance simply means you are accepting the way things are right now. It doesnt mean you have to agree with, like, or hope it will always be this way. Its only acknowledging what is at the present moment without judging it as good or bad. Once you acknowledge it without judgement, you can then choose your course of action .
Another common misconception of acceptance is that its an admission of failure or defeat. Acceptance is not admitting youve failed. When you accept that a strategy isnt going to work, youll tend to give it up. Now you have room to take a more effective approach towards success by building a more flexible and effective response to the situation.
Another common misunderstanding is confusing acceptance with tolerance, but these are two distinctly different things. Toleration is a form of acceptance where youre willing to deal with discomfort or difficultybut only up to an acceptable limit.
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The Wisdom To Know The Difference: An Acceptance And Commitment Therapy Workbook For Overcoming Substance Abuse
By Kelly G. Wilson and Troy DuFrene
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cant change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.
Maybe youve just started on the road to recovering from addiction. Or youve tried to stop abusing alcohol or drugs before, but havent been successful. Perhaps youre making progress in a support group or 12-step program, but want to add an approach grounded in science. No matter how far youve come, how far you still have left to go, or which path youve chosen, this book can help you end your struggle with addiction.
The Wisdom to Know the Difference by Kelly G. Wilson and Troy DuFrene is an addiction recovery workbook based in acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT. Research shows that ACT is a powerful treatment for alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and other issues, and it can be used alone or in combination with any 12-step program. On this particular path, youll learn to accept what you cant change about yourself and your past and commit to changing the things you can. Youll overcome your addiction by focusing on what you value most, like your talents, friends, career, relationships, and family. Theres no need to wait any longer. This book will help you find the serenity, courage, and wisdom it takes to leave substance abuse behind for good.
What Would An Act Session Involve
With ACT, therapists work with patients to develop mindfulness techniques and acceptance strategies that build greater psychological flexibility. ACT interventions are also designed to help patients clarify personal values and life goals, such as having meaningful relationships or doing purposeful work, so they can take action in that direction. Therapists employ ACT methods to help patients focus on the current moment rather than become fixated on an idea of what life might look like at a certain point in the future. Typically, ACT techniques are combined with other evidence-based therapy such as CBT or Motivational Interviewing.
While licensed therapists are generally well-versed in multiple psychotherapy modalities, your mental health care should be individualized to meet your specific psychological needs and goals. That starts with a comprehensive mental health assessment conducted by a credentialed provider. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can help you move through unwanted thoughts and feelings that keep you stuckand move toward living your best, most meaningful life.
Are you or a loved one struggling with alcohol or other drugs? Call today to speak confidentially with a recovery expert. Most insurance accepted.
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What To Expect During Acceptance And Commitment Therapy Sessions
The introduction of therapy can vary depending on the individual and the state of their condition. The trained psychotherapists at Shoreline Recovery in San Diego use their ACT skills to introducing the different treatment plan options for acceptance treatment. A few of the more common tactics and strategies that are used include the following:
Individuals who are seeking ACT treatment to help with their substance abuse habits can be coached and taught to identify their weaknesses. Doing this eliminates many of the day-to-day struggles and can give guidance on how to utilize their strengths better.
Studies have shown that participants of acceptance and commitment therapy benefit most by being guided to let their beliefs, thoughts, and other emotions cause minimal reaction instead of the constant urges to act on them impulsively.