Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Ottawa

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Ottawa

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Learn More About Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on helping individuals develop psychological flexibility and promote meaningful behavior change. It is based on the premise that suffering is a normal part of the human experience, and that attempting to eliminate or avoid unpleasant thoughts, emotions, and sensations can often lead to more distress.

Here are some key aspects of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy:

1. Acceptance: ACT emphasizes the importance of accepting and embracing one’s thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, even if they are uncomfortable or distressing. Rather than trying to control or eliminate these experiences, ACT encourages individuals to develop a willingness to experience them fully and without judgment.

2. Cognitive Defusion: ACT recognizes that thoughts can often be unhelpful or limiting. Cognitive defusion techniques are used to help individuals create distance from their thoughts and see them as just passing events in the mind, rather than absolute truths. By defusing from unhelpful thoughts, individuals can reduce their impact on behavior and emotional well-being.

3. Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a central component of ACT. It involves bringing one’s attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way. Mindfulness exercises and practices are used to help individuals develop awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and sensations, as well as the ability to observe them without getting caught up in them.

4. Values Clarification: ACT emphasizes the importance of clarifying one’s values and using them as a guide for behavior. Identifying and committing to personal values allows individuals to make choices and take actions that are in alignment with what truly matters to them, even in the presence of difficult thoughts or emotions.

5. Committed Action: ACT encourages individuals to take purposeful action towards their values, even in the face of discomfort or fear. It emphasizes the importance of setting goals and taking small steps towards them, while being willing to experience the challenges and setbacks that may arise along the way.

ACT has been applied to a wide range of mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, chronic pain, and relationship difficulties. It is a collaborative and experiential therapy that aims to help individuals develop psychological flexibility, increase their ability to tolerate discomfort, and live a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

It’s important to note that ACT therapy should be conducted by a trained therapist who is familiar with the approach. The therapist serves as a guide and facilitator in the exploration and practice of acceptance, mindfulness, and values-based action, providing support, validation, and expertise throughout the therapeutic process.

Here are some key findings from peer-reviewed resources that explain Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT):

1. Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (2012). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: The Process and Practice of Mindful Change. Guilford Press. – This book by Steven C. Hayes, Kirk D. Strosahl, and Kelly G. Wilson provides a comprehensive overview of ACT, including its theoretical foundations, therapeutic techniques, and practical applications. It draws on empirical research and clinical experience to support the effectiveness of ACT in promoting psychological flexibility and improving mental health outcomes.
2. A-Tjak, J. G., Davis, M. L., Morina, N., Powers, M. B., Smits, J. A., & Emmelkamp, P. M. (2015). A meta-analysis of the efficacy of acceptance and commitment therapy for clinically relevant mental and physical health problems. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 84(1), 30-36. – This meta-analysis examines the efficacy of ACT in treating various mental and physical health problems. The study finds that ACT is effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and substance abuse. It also highlights the positive impact of ACT on improving quality of life and psychological well-being.
3. Ruiz, F. J. (2010). A review of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) empirical evidence: Correlational, experimental psychopathology, component and outcome studies. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 10(1), 125-162. – This review summarizes empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of ACT. It highlights the positive outcomes of ACT in various populations and clinical conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, chronic pain, and substance abuse. The review also discusses the specific therapeutic components and processes that contribute to the effectiveness of ACT.

4. Gloster, A. T., Klotsche, J., Ciarrochi, J., Eifert, G., Sonntag, R., Wittchen, H. U., … & Hoyer, J. (2017). Increasing valued behaviors precedes reduction in suffering: Findings from a randomized controlled trial using ACT. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 91, 64-71.
– This randomized controlled trial examines the effectiveness of ACT in reducing psychological distress. The study finds that engaging in valued behaviors, as guided by ACT, leads to a reduction in suffering and improvements in psychological well-being. It suggests that the focus on values and committed action is a key mechanism of change in ACT.

These peer-reviewed resources provide evidence for the effectiveness of ACT in treating a range of mental and physical health problems, including anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and substance abuse. They highlight the positive impact of ACT on improving quality of life, psychological well-being, and valued behavior change. Consulting these and other relevant studies can offer a deeper understanding of the empirical support for ACT and its potential as an effective therapeutic approach.


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Specialized Therapy Services We Offer in Addition to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: