Steps Recovery Center recognizes how vital the mind, body, and spirit are in their connection to the whole person. We take a holistic approach to treating those with mental health disorders, which includes treating the whole person, and find that it tends to be more successful, especially since addiction affects every aspect of a person’s life. With a customized and individualized program, a holistic approach just makes sense. It affords an opportunity to meet the patient’s physical and psychological needs and allows them to engage physically, emotionally, and mentally.
What is ACT?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is based on the belief that acceptance and mindfulness are more adaptive responses to life, and challenges the ground rules of most Western psychology. Developed by Steven C. Hayes, the psychologist professor at the University of Nevada in 1986, it involves using the term values to refer to activities that give individual lives meaning. Values are like a compass that helps us make choices based on the direction in which we desire our life to go. It’s different from a goal you might accomplish, and needs an attitude adjustment for it to work. When we connect with our values, we can move our lives in positive and meaningful directions—even when in stressful or challenging circumstances. Furthermore, values are very personal and unique to each person; it’s not something we have to do, but what we choose to do. There are six central processes or systems that fall into the ACT values.
Sometimes called expansion, the acceptance process is about creating space for emotions, impulses, and feelings that we might suppress or avoid otherwise. It allows us to stop obsessing over them so that we can move on easier.
Cognitive defusion is a mindful strategy that involves recognizing our psychological experiences objectively rather than seeing them as perceived threats or realities. Our feelings are not omens of impending doom; they are just feelings. Thoughts are just thoughts and not true, bright, or important, usually. Using guided meditations and scripts are beneficial for cognitive defusion.
Otherwise known as mindfulness, being present with emotions, thoughts, and feelings, helps to defuse them. Instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, connecting with the here and now is about engaging entirely with the present—right now. ACT activities and exercises on mindfulness are useful in this respect.
Self as Context or The Observing Self
Similar to self-compassion, this value is about viewing our psychological and physical experiences as transient and ever-changing. It helps us step away from the alternative, where our emotions, sensations, thoughts, define us, to a more peripheral and dynamic perception.
A value in which we explore and clarify the things we hold meaningful. They are self-reflection exercises that help us find direction and motivation; coaching discussions can also be quite helpful for this process.
This value is about goal-setting. The idea is setting value-based life goals. ACT practitioners can help people commit to and work with engagement towards their goals through actions. The key to these values is acceptance and not avoidance.
Medical Conditions that can Benefit
Several medical conditions that ACT can help with include:
- General and social anxiety disorders
- Substance abuse
- Chronic pain
- Eating disorders
With customized programs that incorporate ACT, therapists or rehabilitation facilities can target these conditions, thus improving the lives of those suffering. ACT can be done in group therapy or one-on-one with a trained therapist, psychologist, counselor, or physician. It has the potential to produce very positive results—not just for those who have psychological disorders.