For those who do not know, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT is a type of behavioral therapy which is used for people who suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder or SAD. This anxiety acceptance and commitment therapy was developed by a psychology professor, Steven Hayes, in 1986. This therapy is a part of the third wave of behavioral therapies along with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or CBT. Also, this anxiety therapy also shares many of the values of Buddhist philosophy and the goal of this therapy is the acceptance of negative thoughts instead of the elimination or reduction of them. The ACT also shows promise for use with SAD and can be used in brief or long-term therapy for individual, couples, or group.
The Overview of the Therapy
If you are going to be receiving the anxiety acceptance and commitment therapy, you need to know a few things first about this therapy. This therapy is different from other traditional western therapy treatments. There are many ACT theorists which stated that our normal everyday thoughts and beliefs can become very destructive. Also, according to the ACT, the language becomes the root of our suffering. The reason is that language is the basis for negative thoughts and emotions such as deception, prejudice, obsession, fear, and self-criticism.
The goal of this ACT is to encourage you to enjoy a meaningful life and accepting that there will always be pain and suffering and you should detach from it and take action based on your values. Through this therapy, it is to be expected that your anxiety symptoms will lessen eventually. This therapy will not try to control or get rid of your social anxiety symptoms because it will only make your symptoms become worse. The tools that the ACT therapist will use are metaphors to convey messages to you during the therapy. This therapy will also involve experiential exercises, values-guided behavioral interventions, and mindfulness skills training.
Principle of the Therapy
There are at least six core principles of anxiety acceptance and commitment therapy. The first principle is the cognitive diffusion where it involves separating yourself from unpleasant personal experiences such as thoughts, feelings, images, memories, urges, and sensations. Through this principle, the goal of ACT is to reduce the influence of those personal experiences.
The second principle is the acceptance which means to allow your unpleasant personal experiences to come and go without you trying to control them. By doing so, you will make them less threatening and will reduce the impact. The third principle is to engage with the present moment. The therapist will ask you to try to get engaged in the present moment instead of becoming lost in your own thoughts.
The fourth principle is for you to notice that you can observe the way you are thinking. You are the one who controls your thoughts and they are not dangerous. The fifth principle is to value and to help you to identify what is important to you. The last principle is for you to commit yourself to action which is in line with your values even if that causes some distress.