What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an action-oriented approach used by psychologists to change a person’s way of thinking through acceptance and mindfulness. The strategies used in this empirical intervention are well known in the world and have proven to be quite effective.
The idea is that people learn to stop avoiding, denying or struggling with their internal emotions, which are often the basis of conflict. Trauma and past experiences can mark us and create a gap that does not allow our mind to function properly, causing us to respond inappropriately to situations or moments that may be definitive.
This technique is quite new and has evolved incredibly over the past two decades. At first it was taken as a non-therapeutic alternative for stress management and other basic measures of our lives, however, as studies on this approach and the expertise of psychologists have deepened, it has been shown that it can be even more effective than other conventional therapies.
The root of this theory goes beyond mindfulness. Controlling our emotions, or at least trying to do so, can often be counterproductive. The suppression of our experiences only creates internal complications that manifest themselves when we try to reach new goals or with the way we treat those around us.
By taking, step by step, the actions of ACT, we learn to accept our experiences from the deepest point of our mind. Then, we choose the direction we want to take (a change in our life) and finally we take it, with all the tools that are being given to us at that moment.
This type of therapy can be used for the treatment of more complex problems but that are born from the same disorder, such as drug addiction. Under the three stages of ACT, we can change our behavior and push our way in a direction completely opposite to alcohol and other drugs.
How is ACT different from other therapies?
One of the most widely used therapies by psychologists (especially for drug addiction problems) is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). However, this therapy focuses on changing thinking and eliminating some ideas that can contribute to the onset and uncontrol of symptoms. However, the concept of ACT is more holistic, has a greater focus and changes the patient’s path.
Instead of feeling that you are in a free-for-all battle with your thoughts, as with CBT, with ACT you can accept them and then disarm them completely. Unlike CBT, the basis of this novel therapy is that negative thoughts are also part of life and that we can gain positive experiences from them.
This changes much more than a basic idea, such as smoking or drinking alcohol, because it also pushes the patient towards a different route, a “value” route.
Part of the guidelines for this type of therapy includes the patient finding a positive value activity that they can do during and after the ACT process. Not only do we try to get the patient to accept and evaporate an idea, but to get another idea of greater weight, with a positive impact, that they can hold on to and create changes that are beneficial.
No therapy has the same impact or approach to the patient. The rest will focus on eliminating the problem and, at best, controlling and “maintaining” the status quo, using appropriate measures. However, with ACT we have a guided and controlled change from a sense of well-being that is not obtainable under other therapies.
How can ACT help us with Drug Addiction?
For someone addicted, the best way to solve problems is to take or use drugs. However, it is an endless cycle where the problem simply lasts or gets worse. ACT therapy not only makes us aware of our problem and the reality we are living, but it also provides an answer to the challenge we are suffering.
Read also: How to Help Your Employees Avoid Addiction
For example, a person who comes from chronic abuse with a difficult childhood has a clear problem rooted since childhood. Most likely he will try to drown negative thoughts (like “I’m a loser, I can’t do anything, I’m useless”) with alcohol or drugs. Thoughts that, of course, are not real.
ACT increases your awareness of your situation. It gives you the ability and tools to accept your past and everything that has happened and helps you change your path. Our past can mark us and create invisible routes to our destination, however, changes in behavior and cognition can change our course.
Starting from acceptance, the next step is to look for some positive alternatives that can improve your quality of life and put them into practice. For example, maybe you could take up a job you love. These are traits considered by ACT that can be encouraged depending on the patient and the possibilities that exist.
What should I look for in my therapist or rehabilitation center?
The key is to find a rehabilitation center that has experienced therapists or mental health professionals who have some degree of specialization in ACT. Also, you should find a therapist who makes you always feel comfortable and who understands the root of your problem, only then can you get better.
The Shoreline Recovery Center is an excellent example of an organization that cares about your well-being. Not only does it provide you with the support you need in record time, but it also provides you with specialized therapies, such as ACT, through experienced professionals. If you feel you need help, don’t hesitate to contact them.
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