Life is an incredible journey filled with adventure, growth, and stimulation. That is not to say, however, that this journey is always easy. There will be hardship, stress, and times of struggle. It isn’t hard to get bogged down by present circumstances and negative emotions in these moments. Most often, the obstacles present in tough times can be overcome through determination and dedication, but that isn’t always the case. Grief, trauma, and mental illness are the obstacles that sometimes require additional assistance if they are to be overcome. Luckily, resources are available that can help when life seems hopeless.
One such resource is acceptance and commitment therapy. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT therapy) is an evidence-based psychotherapy treatment that encourages being present in the moment by teaching mindfulness techniques and coping strategies developed for the sole purpose of helping individuals overcome negative thought patterns and limit stress. ACT therapy has been shown to help or improve various mental health issues and is compatible with most addiction therapy programs.
What Is ACT?
Acceptance and commitment therapy is a form of psychotherapy that derives its methodology from behavior and cognitive behavioral therapy. Behavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy are forms of treatment that identify patients’ thought patterns, behavior trends, and emotions and how the interaction of these three components can affect mental health. People often avoid confronting their problems, preferring to ignore or deny their origins and influence.
ACT uses the methods of these two therapy treatments to help patients come to terms with the negative influences present in their lives. This is the “acceptance” side of ACT treatment. Part of this acceptance is the acknowledgment that, while things may seem bleak at the moment, the struggle is a part of life, but only a single part. Patients are encouraged to accept that their emotions are a legitimate and perhaps even appropriate response to a particular situation. Here, therapists emphasize that although a response may be appropriate, it should not create additional obstacles and prevent them from moving forward. Once acceptance has been achieved, therapists help identify lifestyle changes that patients can make to overcome the obstacles and issues they previously could not accept.
Is There Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Addiction?
Acceptance and commitment therapy has been shown to treat various issues, such as substance use disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, psychosis, and others. ACT encourages psychological flexibility, a state of mind that promotes emotional openness and adaptability. These lessons are incorporated into the treatment structure as steps patients must progress through.
These steps include:
- Acceptance – accepting and acknowledging the reality of an issue while confronting thoughts, emotions, and behaviors caused by or relating to that issue.
- Cognitive defusion – creating distance between patients and harmful thought patterns and behaviors by limiting judgment and unwarranted self-criticisms.
- Mindfulness and being present – this step encourages patients to be observant of their thoughts and feelings and their effect on behavior without judgment.
- Core values – ACT encourages patients to assess their core values and question whether or not their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors align with the values they hold most dear.
- Action – after identifying harmful thought patterns, recurring emotions, and behavior trends, patients and therapists will craft a plan to challenge and eliminate them and their negative influence.
- Commitment – this step sees patients actively work towards eliminating harmful thought patterns and behaviors identified up to that point. This step incorporates all the lessons and skills previously learned in treatment.
When suffering from a substance use disorder, feelings of shame and guilt are not uncommon. ACT works to help patients eliminate judgment associated with their addiction and view their thoughts and behaviors without unnecessary harsh criticism. This lack of judgment gives patients an enhanced perspective that allows them to more clearly see the connection and influence of their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Find Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Programs in Asheville, North Carolina at Insight Recovery
Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer/cure for addiction. Everyone responds to treatment differently. That is why it is of the utmost importance to consider all available options when considering substance use treatment.
At Insight Recovery, we understand the struggles of living with a substance use disorder. Since our inception, our mission has been to restore balance to those affected by substance use and mental health disorders through evidence-based outpatient treatment. We believe that all obstacles in life can be overcome with hard work, dedication, and support, and we believe that no one should walk the path of recovery alone.