Imagine your friend playfully throwing you into their pool and you desperately trying to rise afloat for fear of drowning, only to remember that you took swimming lessons. That fear of losing control and not being able to emerge from the water was terrifying. Still, the minute you stopped fighting it and accepted that you could swim, your body surfaced.
The same is true with your thoughts. In other words, it is hard to stay afloat when frantically trying to control them. However, once you accept that you don't have to fight or escape from your thoughts any longer, you realize that you aren't drowning.
Struggling to accept negative thoughts, feelings, or emotions can create unhealthy behavioral patterns. However, you can overcome these obstacles through the help of a therapist and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, more commonly called ACT, reducing the impact or influence it has on you.
What is ACT Therapy?
ACT therapy (pronounced like the word “act”) is a therapeutic method used to help individuals accept their thoughts and feelings rather than attempt to escape, avoid, suppress, or control them. It teaches them to become mindful of their thoughts, receptive to them, and allow them to enter and leave their mind without fighting against them.
The core concept of ACT therapy is that the human mind is destructive because of the attempts to avoid thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, and other inner struggles. These attempts eventually lead to psychological rigidity and prevent a person from taking the necessary steps to address these issues. However, it's essential to know that the problem is not the unwanted thoughts but how one responds to them.
Over time, avoiding uncomfortable thoughts and feelings can lead to several problems, such as gambling, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, relational issues, and internal conflict, to name a few. Therefore, ACT therapy encourages individuals to participate in activities that support their core beliefs and helps them to live more meaningfully long-term rather than acting on short-term impulses.
Who Can Benefit From ACT Therapy?
Acceptance and commitment therapy is an evidence-based treatment that has been shown to be effective with a number of mental health disorders, including:
- Anxiety Disorder
- Mood Disorders
- Social phobia
- Chronic pain
- Loss of a loved one, job, or divorce
- Low self-esteem/self-doubt
- Destructive thoughts
- Communication issues
ACT therapy can help many people with various symptoms and improve their ability to function. An ACT therapist may use the method alone or with other forms of therapy.
Overall, ACT therapy promotes healthy behavior and has helped people successfully quit smoking, exercise more, and eat well-balanced meals.
What to expect from a Session with an ACT Therapist
Acceptance and commitment therapy is typically a shorter-term therapy than other forms, consisting of ACT therapists working alongside clients to establish their core values and beliefs. So, for example, an ACT therapist may ask their client what their goals are or what they value most to help motivate them toward healthy behavioral patterns.
ACT therapists may explore whether their client's past actions may or may not have always merged with their core values and beliefs and how they could have handled the situation more effectively. For instance, did they drink excessively to escape their thoughts or feelings?
The ACT therapist and client will often revisit the discussion of values in ACT therapy sessions. Values can assist in reframing thoughts or remind clients that although their thoughts may be unpleasant, they don't define who they are.
ACT therapists will also work with clients on gaining a sense of self and recognizing that unpleasant emotions are a part of being human. As in other types of therapy, therapists may give their clients homework assignments to help them increase their awareness of thoughts and feelings or to reinforce the topics discussed in the session.
ACT for Anxiety Helps Reduce The Desire To Control
Although Act therapy has proven effective for many challenges such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse issues, phobias, and trauma, it is particularly effective in treating anxiety. Clients experiencing anxiety typically enter therapy to learn to better control their situation, only to learn that more things are out of their control than they’d realized. If open, those seeking control quickly learn the benefits and relief that comes from letting go of control while finding that it is not the safety net they believed it to be.
ACT therapeutic interventions foster:
- Accepting circumstances rather than trying to control them
- Committing to actions that merge with one's core values and beliefs
So, what are some ACT Interventions a therapist might include?
- Confronting and accepting unwelcome thoughts rather than trying to control them
- Identifying core values and beliefs
- Committing to core values and beliefs
- Prioritizing core values – e.g., kindness, integrity, faithfulness
- Removing oneself from their thoughts and understanding that they are nothing more than that
- Living in the present moment and being mindful of thoughts and feelings
You Can Live a Meaningful Life
Although it's natural to want to escape or avoid unpleasant or overwhelming thoughts, it won't resolve the issue. Instead, these problems will continue to escalate and lead to unhealthy behavioral patterns. With the help of a licensed therapist using the ACT therapy method, you will learn to allow your thoughts to flow freely rather than attempt to control them. You will learn to accept thoughts and emotions for what they are without judgment and live a rich, full, and meaningful life according to your core values and beliefs.
Start Letting go of Control with ACT Therapy in Atlanta, GA
Are you ready to let go of control? Whether it is for anxiety, depression, grief, or substance use we can help you in a way that is aligned with your core values and beliefs. Our ACT therapists in Atlanta can help you through your overwhelming thoughts so that you can live a meaningful life. In order to get started follow these steps.
Other Services We Offer in Atlanta, GA
We offer a variety of therapy techniques and specialties at our counseling office in Atlanta, GA. This includes LGBTQIA+ therapy, therapy for Black Women, and therapy for Black Men. As well as support for relationships through relationship counseling, premarital counseling, and marriage counseling.
Rayvéne is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Master Addiction Counselor in Atlanta, GA.
Empowering you to remove the mask of other people’s expectations and have the Audacity to be themselves.
Note: While the information above is intended to provide insight as you begin your journey they are not intended to replace the guidance of a trained professional. Exploring these concerns in the presence of a licensed counselor or other licensed professional may provide deeper insight and assist in managing more multifaceted concerns that may arise.