What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?
According to the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a unique psychological intervention. ACT uses acceptance, mindfulness, commitment, and behavioral change-based strategies to promote psychological flexibility. Moreover, psychological flexibility supports becoming fully present in order to be able to change or persist in situations based on your chosen values. As a model of healing, ACT can help you reconnect with your body, mind, and spirit in recovery.
The Importance of ACT
As we know, the struggles of substance use disorder (SUD) and co-occurring mental health disorders have an interconnected relationship with psychological distress. When you attempt to control or ignore negative thoughts, it becomes easier to engage in unhealthy behaviors like self-medicating. Regarding negative thoughts and behaviors, when you seek to control or bury your head in the sand, the intensity and frequency of your distress only increase. This distress over negative intrusive thoughts makes it difficult to work toward healthier long-term thinking and behavior patterns.
The 6 Core Principles of ACT
There are six core principles of psychological flexibility within the ACT care model. The six core principles of ACT are used to support you as you make non-judgmental contact with the present moment.
Alternative to avoidance
Embrace your past without judgment or change
Change the way you interact or relate to negative thoughts
Decrease believability or attachment to negative thoughts
Experience the world more directly
Develop more flexible behavior to align actions with values
Encourage non-judgmental thoughts and feelings
Self as context
Awareness of your experiences without attachment or investment
Choose values based on purposeful action
Exercises to support choosing life directions
Encourage effective patterns of action linked to chosen values
ACT and Mindfulness
Mindfulness is an important part of ACT and building psychological flexibility for self-awareness. Through self-awareness, you can fully emerge to think and live in the present moment without judgment of yourself and your past. Mindfulness-based interventions can support you in developing new ways of thinking about yourself, others, and the world. According to an article from the Cognitive and Behavioral Practice Journal, researchers have found that mindfulness is a core strategy in developing non-judgmental acceptance of your internal experiences and supports you in moving away from avoidance-based thinking.
The goal is not to erase negative thinking or feelings, as life can be filled with happiness, sadness, joy, fear, and other complex and multifaceted experiences. Constant positivity is an unhealthy approach. The ability to experience a full range of emotions is important to your health, impacting how you cope, process, and learn from your life experiences. Through mindfulness, you can discover objectivity. With objectivity, you can learn how to observe, detach, and fully accept both positive and negative thoughts and feelings. When you can accept negative and positive feelings without acting on the negative ones with unhealthy behaviors, you are building a healthier you.
To learn more about mindfulness, visit our Mindfulness page.
How Can ACT Help in Recovery?
Intrusive negative thoughts can be detrimental to your mental health as these types of thinking patterns often lead to avoidance behavior. Avoidance behavior can include things like denial and distractions, which can lead to unhealthy choices and behaviors. For example, many people look to substances like alcohol as an escape from the things in life that feel too difficult to confront. Without foundational support of life skills and coping strategies, it can be difficult to cope with negative thoughts and feelings.
If you are struggling with SUD and or co-occurring mental health disorders, ACT can help you build skills and strategies to support you on your journey to recovery. With ACT, you can start learning how to accept what you can and can not control as you start living fully in the present. Engaging in acceptance and remaining in the present means you can recognize your thoughts and feelings without allowing the negative thoughts to become intrusive. In this way, you can create healthier thinking and behavior patterns built on values rather than on avoidance behavior.
ACT at Emerge Recovery TX
At Emerge Recovery TX, we believe in supporting the whole person in body, mind, and spirit. Intrusive thoughts can make it difficult to build healthier thinking and behavior patterns for your long-term well-being. With this in mind, we have built our curriculum around helping clients emerge fully in the present with ACT. Guiding you on your recovery journey, we can help you reconnect with yourself as you learn to let go of self-judgment, gain more awareness, and make healthier choices based on your core values rather than negative thoughts. As you learn to let go of the unhealthy behaviors and habits associated with negative intrusive thoughts, you can start building a fulfilling life in the present.
To learn more about how ACT can help you on your recovery journey, visit our Trauma Recovery page.
With ACT, you can start building healthier coping strategies to manage negative intrusive thoughts on your recovery journey. At Emerge Recovery TX, we use ACT to help you reconnect, build self-awareness, and find fulfillment in long-term recovery as you fully emerge as a healthier you in body, mind, and spirit. Call us today at (737) 237-9663 to learn how ACT can support you in recovery from SUD and co-occurring disorders.