Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Anxiety

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a psychological treatment modality that focuses on acceptance, mindfulness, and behaviour change strategies to alleviate psychological distress and enhance psychological flexibility. When applied to anxiety disorders, ACT offers a unique perspective and set of tools to help individuals effectively manage their symptoms and live a more fulfilling life.


Anxiety disorders are characterised by excessive worry, fear, and avoidance behaviours that significantly interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. ACT for anxiety recognises that anxiety is a natural part of the human experience. The goal is to help individuals develop skills to respond to anxiety more effectively rather than attempting to eliminate it entirely.

Key Components

Acceptance: ACT emphasises acceptance of internal experiences, including anxious thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, without attempting to suppress or avoid them. By acknowledging and making room for anxiety, individuals can reduce the struggle and resistance that often exacerbate distress.

Cognitive Defusion: Cognitive defusion techniques help individuals distance themselves from their anxious thoughts by recognising them as passing thoughts rather than objective truths. By learning to observe and let go of unhelpful thoughts, individuals can reduce their impact on behaviour and mood.

Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices cultivate present moment awareness and nonjudgmental observation of thoughts, emotions, and sensations. By developing mindfulness skills, individuals can respond to anxiety with clarity and calmness, rather than reacting impulsively or getting caught up in the cycle of anxious thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

Values Clarification: ACT helps individuals clarify their core values and identify meaningful directions for their life. By connecting with personal values, individuals can make choices and take actions that are in line with what matters most to them, even in the presence of anxiety.

Committed Action: Committed action involves setting goals and taking steps toward valued life directions, despite the presence of anxiety or discomfort. By focusing on actions that align with their values, individuals can create a sense of purpose and fulfillment that overcomes anxiety-related limitations.

How can ACT help

ACT interventions have been shown to decrease anxiety symptoms and improve overall psychological well-being in individuals with anxiety disorders. By promoting acceptance, mindfulness, and values-driven action, ACT helps individuals develop greater psychological flexibility. This enables adaptive responses to anxiety-provoking situations. ACT empowers individuals to live more meaningful, fulfilling lives by reducing avoidance behaviours, increasing engagement in valued activities, and fostering deeper connections with themselves and others.


Individualised Approach: ACT interventions are tailored to each individual’s unique needs, preferences, and circumstances, and may vary in emphasis depending on the specific subtype of anxiety disorder.

Practice and Persistence: Developing mindfulness and acceptance skills takes time and practice. Consistent effort and willingness to engage in the exercises are essential for maximising the benefits of ACT.

Integration with Other Therapies: ACT can be used as a standalone treatment for anxiety or integrated with other therapeutic approaches, depending on the individual’s needs and preferences.


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy offers an empowering approach to managing anxiety by helping individuals develop acceptance, mindfulness, and values-driven action. By cultivating psychological flexibility and promoting engagement in meaningful life activities, ACT empowers individuals to overcome the limitations of anxiety and live richer, more fulfilling lives.