What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy used for?

If you’re not familiar with ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), it is a hybrid type of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) predicated on mindfulness and Eastern meditative practices. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an effective way to treat a host of mental health disorders including anxiety, depression, and psychosis; however, it has also proven to be quite effective in helping those struggling with substance abuse overcome their addiction. Developed by Steven Hayes, Ph.D., ACT works by encouraging those who struggle with addiction to acknowledge their inner emotions like denial and avoidant tendencies, for example, and avoid allowing them to impede their journey toward sobriety. In this article, we will take a closer look at this form of therapy and how it can benefit those looking to overcome addiction.

Difference Between ACT And CBT

While there ACT and CBT are similar, there are a few key differences between them, namely in the approach to therapy. For instance, CBT works by encouraging a change in thoughts and feeling while ACT focuses on accepting those thoughts and feelings without them leading to negative behavior. This is especially true of those undergoing ACT as part of their addiction therapy. What can someone struggling with addiction expect to gain from ACT? Well, studies have shown that ACT can help patients stay “present in the moment,” which enables them to identify core values in themselves that would have otherwise never discovered. These core values can then be used to help patients commit to a course of action that ensures they successfully complete their drug treatment program and also avoid relapse once they go back to the “real” world.

Why ACT Is Sometimes Considered A Controversial Form Of Addiction Therapy

Although many former addicts have credited ACT with helping them to reclaim their lives, many people are skeptical about its use as part of a drug treatment program. To further emphasize this point, ACT has been considered counterproductive in that it places too strong of an emphasis on suppressing emotions, which may lead stress and possibly relapse. Acceptance Commitment Therapy, however, is an effective treatment that is based on changing the way a person thinks, which leads to behavioral changes that can result in a healthier attitude and an ability to make better decisions. This combination can go a long way towards overcoming addiction.

What Does ACT Entail?

As an evidence-based treatment for addictions, ACT is a program administered by a team of mental health professionals including counselors, social workers, and therapist all working collective toward the betterment of the patient. These programs are designed to teach patients, those struggling with mental health or substance abuse problems, how to cope with negative feelings and psychological experiences that keep them from moving forward in life. Some of these coping mechanisms include self-talk, which is a strategy used to talk one’s self through traumatic events or troubling relationship that may have served as the impetus for their mental health or substance abuse problem. Why is this important? Well, 50 percent of those who struggle with mental health disorders are also struggling with substance abuse as well, according to helpguide.org.

What Can You Expect From ACT?

Once patients have learned to cope with their emotions and psychological experiences, they are better equipped to make better behavioral changes that can help improve their lives. In most cases, patients will work with their therapist to find new solutions to resolve problems that maybe didn’t work in the past. This important in that it helps curtail thought patterns and behaviors that can compound problems, which is the hallmark of a good ACT program. After all, facing and accepting your shortcomings is a great way to build confidence and reinforce personal values. Like most things, behavioral changes must start in the mind before they can ever be carried out.

Choosing The Right ACT Therapist

Whether you’re seeking help for a mental health problem or a way to overcome addiction, ACT is worth considering. For those dealing with mental health problems, it makes sense to try resolving such issues through changes in thought patterns. And for those struggling with addiction, combining ACT with detox ensures long-term success in overcoming addiction.

So how does someone go about choosing an ACT therapist? As previously noted, ACT can be administered by most mental health professionals, but this type of therapy may not be offered at all drug treatment facilities or as part of all mental health programs. As such, it is a good idea to speak with prospective centers to confirm whether or not ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy) is offered. Fortunately, Overland Intensive Outpatient offers CBT to clients. It is also important to note that this form of therapy is not limited to mental health disorders and substance abuse addiction as it has been used to resolve stress as well as chronic pain.

According to Psychology Today, a publication covering mental health, relationships, and addiction, ACT therapists are not required to undergo additional training beyond what is required to become licensed in their respective state, which means that assessing their competency relative to this form of therapy can be difficult. Whatever is driving your decision to seek therapy, exercising due diligence can help ensure that you are working with the right therapist. This could mean scheduling an appointment with a prospective facility and speaking with their mental health team to gauge their skills as an ACT therapist.

Generally speaking, most social workers, counselors, and therapists acquire their skills an ACT therapist on the job by treating patients with a variety of mental health and substance abuse problems. If you feel that you or a loved one can benefit from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, contact us for more information.