Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a branch of Behavioural Therapy that has a unique approach to the management of psychological distress. The premise of ACT is that negative emotions and thoughts are a normal and natural part of the human experience, and that emotional suffering is experienced when we get caught up or fused with our negative thoughts and feelings, and also when we try to change or get rid of them.
ACT believes that this struggle with negative thoughts and feelings can in fact distract our attention from living in the present moment, and may lead to a less valued and meaningful life. Rather the ACT model suggests changing your relationship with your emotions. ACT believes that the key to dealing with psychological distress is to firstly become more aware of negative thoughts and feelings, then to gain some distance from them, or defuse from them, and then to develop a degree of acceptance of such thoughts and feelings. ACT suggests that once we have dropped the struggle with our negative thoughts and feelings, that we can then explore what our true values and goals are in life, and take action towards these values, so that we can live a fulfilling and meaningful life.
The ACT model teaches a number of strategies that can be used to assist with these processes of living in the present moment, defusing, acceptance, self-compassion, and living a valued life. ACT has been found to be clinically effective in the treatment of a range of psychological problems.