Acceptance and Commitment Training
Acceptance and Commitment Training is also known as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and shortened to the abbreviation ACT typically pronounced as the word "act".
ACT gets its name from its core approach of accepting rather than trying to change or control thoughts and emotions and then committing to undertaking a valued based action.
The development of psychological flexibility lies at the heart of ACT.
The ACT coach aims to help the client live a life in line with their own personal values while giving them the tools to accept the unhelpful thoughts and feelings that is an inevitable aspect of a rich and meaningful life.
ACT emphasises mindfulness skills and teaches these and other skills through experiential exercises and values-guided behavioural interventions. The core principles of ACT include cognitive defusion, acceptance, mindfulness, observing the self, values and committed action.
Acceptance and Commitment works because it has over 200 randomised controlled studies (the gold standard in scientific evidence) proving its effectiveness.
Cognitive defusion is the ability to put distance between you and your thoughts. We all have a tendency to over identify with our thoughts and become 'fused' with them. We then tend to amplify these thoughts and buy into them causing strong emotional reactions such as anxiety and worry.
In ACT you are taught to see thoughts for what they are, just thoughts and not absolute truths. You don't have to identify with your thoughts to use your thoughts. They are words and pictures that float through our minds. We are the ones who give them meaning
Acceptance isn’t about rolling over and giving up, instead acceptance in ACT teaches you to open up to your thoughts and emotions and be accepting of your experience. It’s about understanding that unpleasant thoughts and feelings are part of life.
If you want to move towards our goals we need to be open to experiencing unpleasant emotions and thoughts.
Because, you can’t achieve anything meaningful without the fear of failure, you can’t change for the better without worrying about changing for the worst, and, you can’t become who you want to be without losing who you are now.
When you are in contact with the present moment, you are not “stuck” in the past ruminating on negative thoughts, fantasising about the future, or worrying about what you need to do next.
For you to make contact with the present moment, you must actively bring your attention to what is happening internally and externally.
So you can experience your world more directly and without judgement.
Mindfulness isn’t just about breathing exercises and meditation; it is about building an attitude of openness, acceptance, and commitment to living your life consciously and on purpose.
observing the self
Since you were born and started to speak, you’ve been asked many questions about who you are. And over time you’ve built a consistent story about yourself. The problem is that these stories that you have created are considered “true” because they are right and not because they are useful in helping you achieve your goals.
You can step back from your stories and see them as if you were sat in the audience in the theatre. A place from which you can observe your experience without getting caught up in the drama unfolding on the stage.
When faced with a difficult choice what direction do you take? How do you know which choice will be the right choice?
How can you act in such a way that you’ll ensure that you continue to make progress in your life and your career, thus moving towards your goals? Values are at the heart of what it means to be a human being.
Values are your freely chosen life directions that act as your compass so that you can act in a way that is authentic to yourself. When you act on your values, you demonstrate what is important to you, and your actions have a quality of purpose. Values connect you with the things you ‘feel’ are important rather than the things you ‘think’ are important, a subtle but essential difference.
When we choose to get lost in the past, worry about the future, react to our emotions or believe our thoughts we stay in stuck in self-defeating patterns of behaviour. Committed action is a step-by-step process of acting to create a whole life of integrity, true to your authentic self, your deepest wishes and desires.
It is the difference between being interested in achieving your goals and being committed to achieving your goals. If you are merely interested, you will continue to justify, avoid and give in to your thoughts and emotions. But if you have built psychological flexibility you’ll be in contact with the present moment and will be able to take action based on your chosen value.