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Acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT, is an approach to psychotherapy that stems from behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. With acceptance and commitment therapy, clients learn to accept their inner emotions caused by hardships, and commit to making the required changes in their behavior to move forward in their lives.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the goal “of ACT is not elimination or suppression of these experiences. Rather, ACT emphasizes pursuit of valued life areas and directions, such as intimate relationships, meaningful work, and personal growth, in the face of these painful experiences.” ACT is a clinically effective treatment that can help clients suffering from: Depression, anxiety, OCD, addictions, substance abuse, stress, psychosis, and more.
Clinicians can use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians with the appropriate tools to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process.
What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an empirically supported mindful psychotherapy approach. Clinicians use this approach to guide patients to focus on the present moment and accept their thoughts and feelings. By doing so, patients can develop the appropriate coping skills to combat negative emotions and free them from repetitive obsessive negative thoughts. There are six core processes that work together to apply psychological flexibility. They are divided into two groupings; Mindfulness and acceptance, and commitment and behavior change. Mindfulness and acceptance encompasses acceptance, defusion, contact with the present moment, and self as context. Commitment and behavior change encompasses awareness in the present moment, self as context, values, and committed action. Below we will outline the six core processes when using ACT:
Contrary to natural instinct, the acceptance core process requires the patient to approach past negative experiences and feelings head on. Doing so provides the patient opportunities to practice allowing these experiences to exist rather than continuing avoidance of the situation.
The cognitive defusion core process attempts to alter thoughts and feelings associated with these experiences and feelings. ACT doesn’t attempt to limit the exposure to these negative experiences; the goal of this core process is to alleviate negative fixation.
The awareness core process equips patients with the tools to be aware of the present moment without feeling the need to try to predict or lead the experience to their desired outcome. Doing so will allow the patient to experience things more directly, allowing for more flexible behavior and affording the patient to perform actions more consistent with the values they hold.
Self as Context
Self as Context teaches the patient the idea that one’s “self” exists outside of the current experiences happening. This idea is particularly important because it allows the patient to be aware of an experience with personal attachment or investment in it, exemplifying acceptance and diffusion.
The values core process sets standards and reasonable goals for the patient to work toward while working through these situations. It evaluates what is most important to the patient in terms of how they want their life experience to be. Establishing values are crucial as they will help drive the patient’s ability to stay committed to their actions, in turn increasing their overall well-being and health. Values can cover the following:
- Community/social connections
- Romantic interests
In the action core process, clinicians and patients work together to further expound upon practices that fulfill previously realized values. Commitment to these actions will assist in achieving long term goals consistent with their values. By acknowledging how behaviors affect the patient, lasting and recognizable positive changes are able to occur.
How Does ACT Work?
The length of time ACT takes ranges from 8 to 16 sessions depending on the individual’s treatment plan and progress. The clinician and patient collaborate throughout the process by setting the treatment plan, session agendas, goals, and commitment to mastering the application of skills ACT develops. This style of therapy requires the patient to play an active role through homework, active learning, and applying the skills learned in their everyday life. Upon the completion of each session the patient will leave with a clear plan and understanding of what to do between sessions. The conditions that ACT can be used for are the same as another popular form of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, their aim in their approach to retraining an individual’s thought process are on opposite spectrums.
ACT vs. CBT
While both ACT and CBT can be used to alleviate some of the same issues people face with destructive thought and behavioral patterns, they take very different approaches. CBT, having been used in its earliest form in the 1950’s, is an evidence based, short term therapy that focuses more on changing patterns of negative thoughts and feelings associated with certain experiences. On the other hand, ACT’s goal is to confront negative thoughts, feelings, and associations with acceptance and psychological flexibility. Considered widely as a mindfulness based therapy, patients are equipped with the tools to build a life that aligns with their core values and goals. Considerably younger than CBT, ACT is considered a “third wave” therapy which moves beyond traditional cognitive therapy to less traditional skill acquisition such as mindfulness and personal values.
View all our CBT worksheets here
Which Conditions can ACT Treat?
Acceptance and commitment therapy can help treat a number of psychological disorders. Disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety, trauma, and addiction/substance abuse are a few. ACT is successful in treating disorders such as these due to its ability to develop psychological flexibility through behavioral therapy. By developing a commitment to enact positive behaviors patients are able to face their problems head on rather than avoiding them. These skills allow long term success for the individual suffering.
How Effective is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?
ACT is an empirically backed form of therapy. The main component of this therapy that makes it so successful is the emphasis of mindful acceptance. Upon completion of treatment individuals are able to accept their problems and cope with stress and anxiety better. In turn, this improves their overall health and well-being. Studies regarding ACT show that acceptance/commitment training yields positive long-term results when combating psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, OCD, trauma, and addiction/substance abuse. Patients are able to improve their mental health, day-to-day functioning, and overall quality of life.
Final Thoughts on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and commitment therapy is an empirically validated form of therapy that has extensive research behind it. Due to its heavy emphasis on accepting life, its problems, and emotions as is, its ability to treat psychological disorders that have the potential of wreaking havoc long-term for individuals is highly successful in the long run. If you find an individual that exemplifies the characteristics of the conditions listed above and a more traditional route of therapy, such as, CBT is not working, think of using ACT to treat them.
Why Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Worksheets?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) worksheets are designed to help individuals develop psychological flexibility and enhance their overall well-being. ACT is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes acceptance of difficult thoughts and feelings, rather than attempting to avoid or eliminate them, and focuses on taking action towards values-based goals.
ACT worksheets may include exercises to help individuals develop mindfulness skills, such as meditation and body awareness, which can help them become more present in the moment and develop greater self-awareness. They may also include activities to help individuals identify their values and work towards goals that are meaningful and important to them.
Additionally, ACT worksheets may help individuals develop cognitive defusion skills, which involve learning to observe and accept negative thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. They may also include exercises to help individuals develop a sense of self-compassion and practice self-care.
Overall, ACT worksheets can be a valuable tool for individuals who are looking to enhance their psychological flexibility and improve their overall well-being. They can help individuals develop mindfulness and cognitive defusion skills, identify and work towards values-based goals, and develop a greater sense of self-compassion.
Why Our Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) Worksheets?
Our ACT worksheets are designed to help practitioners deliver Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) to their clients more effectively.
Benefits of our ACT Therapy Worksheets:
- Take in responses from clients on a digital device like a computer
- Organize client documents in an easy to find folder on your computer or in the cloud
- Search for specific questions and/or answers by using “CTRL + f” function on your keyboard when viewing your PDF
- Legibly read your client’s answers
- Print copies that are high in quality – (we made this form grey on purpose! Much easier on your printer)
Key Features of Our ACT Therapy Worksheets:
- US letter size (8.5″ x 11″)
- Fillable / Printable
- Editable (If you need to make changes, we can provide you with a free editing website that will allow you to make changes to questions/statements)
- Longform responses
- Short form responses
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