Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based therapy that focuses on acceptance and mindfulness strategies and commitment to behaviour change. It aims to increase one's ability to adjust to stressors in the present moment and act inline with one's values.



ACT is commonly compared with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as both therapies are behaviour-based approaches. ACT differs from CBT in that it focuses on individuals accepting rather than avoiding the situations they are facing, whereas CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative beliefs. ACT can be administered across both the short and long term, but CBT is typically conducted in the short term.


Key Points of ACT

  • Acceptance – To allow negative experiences to exist without denying or trying to change them
  • Cognitive Defusion – Reducing attention on the negative experiences
  • Mindfulness – Ability to talk about the present situation without passing judgement
  • Self as Context – The idea that you are not a sum of your experiences, thoughts or emotions but rather as a conscious being experiencing these thoughts and emotions
  • Values – What you stand for
  • Commitment – Taking effective action guided by values (both physical and psychological actions)

Through ACT, clients learn to listen to the way they talk to themselves through experiences such as traumatic events and problematic relationships. Therapists can guide clients to avoid repeating previously problematic thought patterns and behaviours.

Both client and therapist decide if immediate action to change the situation is necessary, or if accepting the situation while learning to make behavioural changes is a better option. After facing and accepting their current issues, clients can then start to practice more optimistic behaviours based on their values.


When will your therapist engage you with ACT?

Some of the more common mental illnesses that can be treated effectively with ACT include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance Abuse
  • Anorexia
  • Chronic Pain
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Schizophrenia


Accept your thoughts and feelings, choose a valued direction, take action.