Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a form of psychotherapy also known as third wave of CBT. It was founded by Steven Hayes in 1982.
The Holy Grail of Mankind seems to be Happiness. We all want to be happy but yet the elusive concept of happiness evades us no end. The reason for this is that we approach happiness with a “fixing mode” mindset. This mindset and approach can lead to low mood and depression. Online counselling for depression is a good way to start to tackle your issues. ACT is one of the forms of Therapies we use in Telepsychiatry consultations.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is not only a Therapy but can be looked at as an approach to Life.
ACT is not about the small decisions in life. Its about the big picture and your life as steps of value guided actions. In ACT therapy we do not focus on changing experiences and feelings. We focus on acceptance of our experiences towards situations as such.
At this point I can talk about 2 important concepts.
COGNITIVE FUSION and EXPERIENTIAL AVOIDANCE
COGNITIVE FUSION is a state where one is fused with one’s thoughts.
When one says “I am a loser” one is in the state of Cognitive FUSION as one is believing they are a loser. In Cognitive Defused state they say “I think I am a loser”. In this statement there is an acknowledgement that the thought I am a loser is only a thought and is not believed to be true. The question to reflect is not whether this thought is true or false. It is only to reflect if this thought is a workable thought or not. Does this thought help you live a value guided life?
Avoiding internal experiences such as feelings, thoughts and physical sensations. Examples of experiential avoidance is excessive alcohol consumption, comfort eating and excessive spending.
The ultimate tool to tackle COGNITIVE FUSION and EXPERIENTIAL AVOIDANCE is MINDFULNESS.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is based on three theories that underpin this. This we will see briefly here.
- FUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISM
In this instance the chair is broken. However, in the context where for instance, there is an exhibition which is conducted for broken furniture, then this chair will find a rightful place and will serve its full function. Hence nothing in this world is to be appraised as “broken” or “dysfunctional”. It is only in the context that one sees it that is important to its function.
Similarly broken bangles are considered to be faulty enough to be discarded. However in the context of a kaleidoscope the broken bangles will be of use.
2.RELATIONAL FRAMEWORK THEORY
Language is just a constellation of sounds. Babies learn to make associations with sounds and objects from age 15 months onwards. The ability to make bi-directional associations with sounds and objects is unique to human beings. For example, a dog for instance might make a unidirectional association when instructed to “Bring the ball”. However, when shown the ball, the dog will not be able to direct link back to the instruction of “Bring the ball”. However, for human beings, if given 2 instructions say “Akil is my brother”; “Vijay is Akil’s father” can deduct A LOT more from those 2 instructions.
Vijay is my father
Akil is Vijay’s son
I am Vijay’s daughter
I am Akil are Vijay’s children
I am Akil’s sister
I have a brother
I am Vijayan’s daughter
The reason that this is significant is because we humans have this unique ability to reflect on what has happened in the past and react emotionally to past experiences. This is unique to Humans.
3.APPLIED BEHAVIOURAL ANALYSIS
This is a theory which outlines that any behaviour has antecedents and consequences. For example., having a thought that “ I am a loser” (antecedent) followed by a drinking binge (Behaviour) may have negative consequences such as more depressed mood.
In Chennai Minds, best psychiatrist in Chennai we offer therapy for various mental health conditions including OCD treatment in Chennai. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a well suited treatment for OCD.