Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT, pronounced like the word “act”) teaches you not to avoid worry, fear, or doubt, because negative feelings are just a natural part of life. Struggling against your anxiety can often make it worse, as you’ll recognize if you’ve ever thought, “Why am I so nervous? What’s the matter with me?” These types of thoughts often spiral out of control, leaving you less likely to be able to do what you want to do.
Acceptance can be terrifying when we’re used to practicing denial. All of us have had moments when we’d rather run from what’s happening rather than face it. Sometimes we tell ourselves that if we just pretend things are all right, our problems will go away. That’s easier than coming to grips with whatever truth scares us, whether it’s that we’ve stayed in an unhappy relationship too long, or fallen on hard times.
But just because you accept something doesn’t mean you are surrendering to it, letting it become a permanent part of your life. The sooner you face the monster in the closet, the sooner you’ll see it’s not as ugly as you thought. You are totally capable of living a full and beautiful life, no matter what lies behind those doors.
ACT also places great importance on values. Values are the principles that give our lives meaning and allow us to persevere through adversity. Sometimes our work together will involve reflecting on which value you really hold closest to your heart, and seeing if your life aligns with your values.
At the heart of ACT is the idea that you can learn to live with even unpleasant thoughts, as long as you don’t give them power over your actions.
This is a only brief description of ACT. It is a rich treatment that offers you many tools to calm your anxiety and feel more self-assured in any situation.