So… What is ACT?

ACT is a unique and creative approach to therapy that challenges many conventional ground rules of psychology. It is a mindfulness-based, values-oriented behavioral therapy, that has many parallels to Buddhism, but is not religious in any way. It is a modern scientific approach, firmly based on cutting-edge research into human behavioral psychology.

ACT gets it name from one of its core messages: accept what is out of our control, and commit to action that improves and enriches our life.

The aim of ACT is to maximize our human potential for a rich, full and meaningful life.  This is done by:

Normalizing that being a human is hard! Rather than trying to get rid or “fix” ourselves when we hit a speedbump, ACT offers an acceptance-based approach to help us build emotional resilience. 

Providing skills to deal with painful thoughts and feelings effectively so that they have much less impact and influence over us.  These are broadly known as mindfulness skills. 

Helping to clarify what is truly important and meaningful –your values – and using that knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate you to change your life for the better. 

Once all of these pieces are in place, the outcome is psychological flexibility.

What is psychological flexibility?

If you’ve ever tried yoga for the first time, you know how it feels to not be able to touch your toes. But it if you kept at it, over time you became more flexible and were able to reach your knees, shins, toes and beyond. The same thing happens with our mind. Right now we may only have a limited set of copings skills available to us. As we become more psychologically flexible we can access new ways of managing our thoughts, riding the waves of our emotions, and coping effectively when things get tough.

How does ACT come in to play in therapy?

You may be wondering what ACT looks like in individual therapy. More than anything, ACT offers a new way of looking at our thoughts, feelings and what helps us change. Therapy is about you and your unique needs and goals. ACT is a path that I believe helps you get there. It’s more important that you see the growth you are looking for rather than knowing the names of specific skills or technical concepts. ACT will probably feel like other types of therapy in the following ways:

  • It’s a safe, nonjudgmental space for you to share any thought, feeling or experience that is on your mind.
  • We’ll discuss the areas of your life where you are feeling stuck, and the barriers that exist to getting unstuck.
  • You’ll think about the things in your life that you’d like to change, and each session we’ll come up with small steps to get you closer to that vision.
  • When it’s helpful, we’ll talk about past experiences and how they may impact your thoughts and feelings today.

Conversely, ACT  may feel a bit different in the following ways:

  • We won’t try to get rid of the thoughts are feelings that are bothering you (*part of the catch is that this isn’t really possible). Instead, we’ll learn how to live fully while those experiences are present.
  • In therapy we’ll talk about what is most important to you and what makes you feel like you are living a meaningful life, rather than a “successful” or “productive” one.
  • We’ll focus on the “here and now” and try to spend as much time as we can in the present moment…this is where the action is.


Sound good? Give me a call to learn more. 


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