Also known as acceptance and commitment therapy. This stems from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), thus fitting into the 3rd wave movement, defined by Steven C. Hays (2012). With ACT we take another step towards change thanks to the therapeutic work which is based on the notion of mental flexibility.
Organization of ACT therapy
This is articulated in three stages and on two concepts each time:
- First, the realization and acceptance of our life, of the past, of our lived stories that make up the person we are today. Suffering or painful feelings are an integral part of these experiences. Then the principle of defusion, which allows us to consider other perspectives on different behaviors or feelings that have hurt us. The symptoms then become life experiences and we try not to avoid them anymore.
- Secondly, focus on the present in full awareness, understand how we are part of it. We are no longer in this phase in the past, but in the here and now. We are no longer the helpless child, but the adult who can react. The idea here is also to refocus on Self as an individual of reference, acting in one’s own environment. No longer react in relation to a situation but in relation to oneself.
- The third phase looks to the future by defining what we want to do with it. For this, we go through the development of our values in the different areas of our life. What path would you like your social sphere to take? Who do you want to be in your family circles? How do you want to love, share, invest? What is it that matters to you today?
Putting it in ACTion
Once these are targeted, we analyse how we can get closer to them. What concretely do we lack to be achieved in this way? What is preventing progress in this direction? There, certain objectives emerge, in the short, medium and long term which significantly bring about the change desired and decided by the patient. We then get into the action, the enactment (“ACT“) of what makes sense to us, while valuing the work done so far.
Throughout, the patient-therapist relationship is egalitarian, that is to say that the therapist too can be taken in his life, by strong emotions and will surely have other values according to his experience. And that’s okay. The important thing is to be able to do something with it. To deal with the fact of suffering and not to seek to no longer suffer.
In short, ACT Therapy helps us achieve what we have, who we are and what we want to do with them. Step by step, and depending on what is possible for each person, this is an approach that allows you to refocus and give the desired meaning to your existence without putting aside everything that is part of it. Existentialism, humanism and behaviorism are the inspirations that will guide the psychotherapist in this therapy process.
ACT Therapy phases are about…
Acceptance of one’s life
Focus on the present in full awareness
Looking into the future and defining what we want to do with it