Acceptance and commitment therapy is a cognitive behavioral therapy technique that draws heavily on mindfulness practices to help clients learn to accept and be present with difficult feelings rather than trying to eliminate them. This form of therapy can be especially useful to people who abuse substances. It's also helpful for those that act in other destructive ways to numb or avoid emotions.\r\n\r\nAccording to the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, there are six core components of acceptance and commitment therapy, which include:\r\n\r\nAcceptance \u2013 Acknowledging unpleasant emotions and thoughts without judgment or an attempt to suppress them or rationalize them.\r\n\r\nCognitive Defusion\u00a0\u2013 Encouraging people to view thoughts as subjective phenomena that can be observed without acting on them or dwelling on them.\r\n\r\nBeing Present \u2013 Encouraging people to stay fully connected with the present moment through mindfulness techniques like yoga, meditation, and mindful awareness.\r\n\r\nSelf as Context\u00a0\u2013 Focusing on the self as a concept that can be observed like a separate being, which helps people feel less defined by their thoughts and experiences.\r\n\r\nIdentifying Values\u00a0\u2013 Encouraging people to explore their intrinsic values without putting weight on external \u201cshoulds\u201d that may have driven values previously. They take steps to make these values a priority.\r\n\r\nCommitted Action\u00a0\u2013 Solidifying short- and long-term goals that align with one\u2019s values and identifying actionable items to achieve them.\r\n\r\nNone of these processes are separate \u2013 they overlap and interconnect. As clients participate in acceptance and commitment therapy at Promises, they\u2019re introduced to these core processes gradually.\r\nHow Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Works\r\nAn ACT therapy program uses mindfulness skills to help clients develop psychological flexibility. It also helps them clarify and direct behavior that is value-guided.\r\n\r\nA key differentiator of acceptance therapy is that clients aren\u2019t considered \u201cdamaged\u201d or \u201cflawed.\u201d Their unwanted experiences aren\u2019t seen as symptoms of problems. Instead, ACT resolves to define the function and the context of behavior in order to determine how workable they are for the ultimate goal of creating a rich and meaningful life. Behavior encompasses actions, memories, thoughts, emotions, and sensations.\r\n\r\nAcceptance therapy strategies may include letting feelings or thoughts happen without the impulse to act on them, observing weaknesses but taking note of strengths, giving oneself permission to not be good or perfect at everything, acknowledging difficulty without avoiding or trying to escape from it, and realizing that one can be in control of their reactions, thoughts, and feelings.\r\nAcceptance and Commitment Therapy in Treatment\r\nWhen clients enter mental health and addiction treatment, they may be closed off. They're unable to communicate, lost in their painful memories and thoughts. Acceptance therapy teaches them to be present in the moment rather than drifting off into ruminating thoughts. Mindfulness techniques encourage self-observance, bringing awareness to the five senses as well as thoughts and emotions.\r\n\r\nAcceptance and commitment therapy is also instrumental in helping clients open up and detach from painful thoughts (defusion). For example, if a client has persistent thoughts that they\u2019re a worthless person, acceptance therapy helps them separate themselves from the thought, essentially stripping the thought of its negative charge. They may say, \u201cI\u2019m having the thought that I\u2019m a worthless person.\u201d Opening up may also involve taking a deep breath, getting oxygen into the lungs. By so doing, they make space for the emotion, thought or sensation without making it worse or minimizing its presence.\r\n\r\nIdentifying values that are important, knowing what they believe in, and taking action that is guided by those values is a key component of commitment therapy. Clients participating in commitment therapy explore exercises that help them identify their chosen values. These can help serve as a compass or guide to direct their behavior.