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Acceptance Commitment Therapy

Making the decision to seek Psychological support - whether for yourself or your child - can be a daunting task. Let us help to reduce the anticipation with todays blog post about ACT.

After our initial session, the overwhelming majority of my clients will ask, "so, how does this work?" or "what do we do now?". The truth is, there are many different roads that therapy can go down. The direction we decide to take is one that should be decided by the therapist and their client together. One of my favourite empirically-based interventions is ACT, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. I love this particular intervention because it is so incredibly transferrable to to every facet of our lives.

One question that I am often asked by clients is "is this thought, feeling or behaviour normal?". From an ACT perspective, the question is less about normality and more about workability. Because when you think about it, who really decides what is normal? A lot of the time, "normal" is merely a social construct. When we look at thoughts, feelings and behaviours from a workability perspective, the question then becomes "is this thought, feeling or behaviour getting me closer to the life I want to live, or further away?". When I engage in therapy from an ACT perspective, the focus becomes on getting my client to a place where they are able to live their life in a way that is meaningful for them. Where other therapies focus on challenging thoughts and adapting behaviours, ACT recognises that thoughts and feelings come and go, and we as people are able to decide whether we assign meaning to them, and what that meaning is. Put simply, ACT allows us to learn how to "turn down" the volume on those thoughts and feelings that cause us problems, so that we can focus our attention on those things that bring meaning to our lives.

So often when we find ourselves having unpleasant thoughts and feelings, like "I'm not good enough", or anger, frustration or worry, we fight with it - we do what we can to make it go away. And why wouldn't we? These things feel awful! It is part of human nature and our innate, biological fight or flight response that when something causes us distress we want to either get away from it, or fight it. This is all well and good for actual danger (i.e. a bear trying to eat us), however it is less workable for thoughts and feelings. The reason for this is the more that we fight or try to get rid of unpleasant thoughts and feelings, the more we fuse with them, and the bigger they ultimately become. From an ACT perspective we can learn to sit with these unpleasant thoughts and feelings and focus our energy on the things that will ultimately add value to our lives.

If you are interested in discussing any of the points further or would like to hear about a particular topic, we would be more than happy to hear from you. Feel free to send an email to and we will answer any questions you may have.

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