Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) combines aspects of acceptance and mindfulness approaches with behavior-change strategies, in an effort to help clients develop psychological flexibility. Therapists and counselors who employ ACT seek to help clients identify the ways that their efforts to suppress or control emotional experiences can create barriers. When clients are able to identify these challenges, it can be easier to make positive and lasting changes. Think this approach may work for you? Contact one of TherapyDen’s ACT specialists today to try it out.

Meet the specialists

I discovered ACT about a year ago and fell in love with it. The trainings I have since received have shown me that a lot of what I did in my work was ACT, I just didn't know what it was called. During training, ACT encourages therapists to practice and use the techniques on themselves and I have seen ACT make a wonderful difference in my own life. ACT combines some aspects of CBT with mindfulness. Mindfulness has the power to help you tolerate emotions and feelings that normally feel too overwhelming. My favorite thing about ACT is that it isn't about getting rid of negative thoughts and feelings but instead learning ways to acknowledge them and make peace with them.

— Anne Rice, Licensed Professional Counselor in Decatur, GA
 

ACT helps us see the truth from the fantasy. It is empowering to know what is real from what is unreal so that we can focus our energy on changing what we can. The commitment is to change what we can and make peace with the rest.

— Sandy Demopoulos, Clinical Social Worker in White Plains, NY

I use ACT with clients who want to have a different relationship with their thoughts and personal experiences. I have used ACT in group settings and with individual clients, it's great for anxiety and depression, but is also a great approach to life for ANYONE (no diagnosis necessary). It uses acceptance of the way things are and at the same time moves you toward change, using mindfulness and Buddhist principles and fun exercises to try in session and at home.

— Inga Curry, Clinical Psychologist in SAN DIEGO, CA
 

ACT is considered a "third-wave" CBT approach. One of the many things I love about it, is the incorporation of mindfulness. The main goal of ACT is to help you identify your values and life your values, despite having some difficult thoughts and feelings.

— Audrey Atkinson, Clinical Psychologist in Davidson, NC

ACT focuses on two main questions: What direction do you want your life to go? What is getting in the way of going in that direction? For the first question, we will focus on your values. These are the things that are important to you in life and are freely chosen by you. We will uncover what your true values are and what steps you can take in those directions. For the second question, we often find that difficult thoughts or feelings get in the way of us living the life we want. Fear, anxiety, depression, or trauma can hold us back and start to dictate our lives. Often we can start to struggle with or avoid our thoughts and feelings in an attempt to make things better. But the more we fight or run from ourselves, the worse it gets. In ACT we practice a stance of acceptance toward our inner obstacles, so that we don't have to struggle with them anymore. With acceptance and a commitment to our values, we can start living the life we chose to live.

— Ellis Edmunds, Psychologist in Oakland, CA
 

I use ACT to inform my work with people across various areas of concern. I help people apply the principles of connecting with their current experiences, identifying the ways in which the relationships to our emotions and thoughts impact our lives and disconnect us from our values. I then help people change the relationships they have with their emotions and thoughts and move towards their values.

— Cayla Panitz, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

ACT is one of my favorite therapies to use with clients. ACT is known to increase "psychological flexibility" and to help clients become more fluid in life. ACT has 6 parts to it. Those six parts are acceptance, cognitive defusion, being present, self as context, values and committed action. When I work with clients using ACT, we work with mindfulness and acceptance as we go through each piece. I find that learning about my clients values, helps facilitate change and growth. I like to ask my clients if their behaviors are in line with their values. This gives us an opportunity to use values to help align the other parts of life to ensure an authentic life is being lived. We also work a great deal on remaining present. It can be so easy to get caught up in the past or future but remaining in the here and now can be of benefit to the individual. Being able to accept where we are and commit to action can help solidify the changes being. Changes can be life-lasting!

— Erica Faulhaber, Licensed Professional Counselor in Lakewood, CO

I attended a 4-day intensive training seminar on ACT and have also presented my own training seminars on ACT to doctoral interns and practicum students. I worked exclusively from an ACT perspective for about 2 years, and though I have been cultivating my practice and expanding my base of knowledge ever since, I still consider ACT to be a major foundation of my work.

— Jason Wu, Psychologist in San Jose, CA
 

ACT is an approach that focuses on engaging in meaningful activities even when you don't feel great. We'll help you to understand the values that are important to you as these are the compass that points us in the right direction when making decisions. We'll help you to understand what you're thinking and feeling, and why you react negatively. We'll help you build skills to not get caught up in negative thought loops that make you feel bad about yourself. We'll work to accept and make space for difficult thoughts and emotions when we can't avoid them, and understand how you can still find ways to do the things that are important to you.

— Dr. Kevin Hyde, Psychologist in Palm Harbor, FL

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a type of therapy that helps people accept the difficulties they are experiencing as a part of life, identify their values, and take action that aligns with these values. The premise of ACT is that struggle is a part of life, and fighting against it gets us nowhere, and can sometimes make things worse. If we accept the struggles we face but decide to move forward in spite of these struggles, we can achieve our goals and live a life with more meaning and purpose. I incorporate compassion-focused practices into my ACT work, helping you acknowledge the ways in which you are being hard on yourself, and how being a little bit kinder might help you move towards a life of valued action and meaning.

— Ashley Hamm, Licensed Professional Counselor in Houston, TX
 

This kind of therapy focuses on thoughts and behaviours and requires you to take action (commit to it) to live out your values. We explore your values together (and I help you figure them out, if you're uncertain) to create a more satisfying life for you. Additionally, mindfulness training is a part of this kind of therapy. I teach my clients the skills necessary to stay present if they choose to do it (on purpose) and without unnecessary judgments.

— Zofia Czajkowska, Psychologist in Montreal,

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is my primary modality. I've completed about 3 years of training, plus group and individual supervision. I believe ACT is culturally sensitive because it's values-based, flexible, and positive. ACT encourages you to be yourself, face life as it is, take purposeful action, and stay engaged in a meaningful life. I tend to combine ACT with self-compassion techniques and skills from Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

— Nancy Lee, Counselor in Aurora, CO

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an action-oriented approach that stems from traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It utilizes acceptance and mindfulness strategies to help the client accept the difficulties that come with life.

— Paula Kirsch, Clinical Social Worker in Detroit, MI
 

This kind of therapy focuses on thoughts and behaviours and requires you to take action (commit to it) to live out your values. We explore your values together (and I help you figure them out, if you're uncertain) to create a more satisfying life for you. Additionally, mindfulness training is a part of this kind of therapy. I teach my clients the skills necessary to stay present if they choose to do it (on purpose) and without unnecessary judgments.

— Zofia Czajkowska, Psychologist in Montreal,

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in a one sentence nutshell can be described as this: I AM HERE NOW, ACCEPTING THE WAY I FEEL AND ALLOWING MY THOUGHTS, WHILE DOING WHAT I CARE ABOUT. This incorporates all of the six of the core psychological processes of ACT: Present moment awareness, Values, Committed action, Self as context, Cognitive defusion and Acceptance. As we move through life, ACT helps to provide greater psychological flexibility to our life circumstances. ACT is based on the premise that human suffering exists and having psychological flexibility allows us to live value centered lives .

— Nancy Georges, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Sacramento, CA
 

ACT is very much in line with my personal and professional values, in that it focuses on our response to things in our lives rather than our struggle against those things. Combined with DBT, I find this model to be very effective.

— Liberty McClead, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Sharpsburg, GA
 

We often get into a battle with our symptoms, trying to push them away with everything we have. The problem is, what we resist, persists. These symptoms are often a normal part of life. Once we can release into them and stop fighting (as counterintuitive as that may sound), we can often learn to live a meaningful life no matter what is going on in our life. We work to defuse and take away the power from thoughts that are disturbing or upsetting so they no longer control you and your emotions. We often use mindfulness techniques to get into the present among other skills.

— Jessica Stebbins, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Merritt Island, FL

We teach clients to notice thoughts and behaviors and cultivate non-judgmental, self-compassionate choices that lead to greater psychological flexibility, openness and loving relationships.

— Julie Noble, Clinical Social Worker in Bethesda, MD
 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an action-oriented approach that stems from traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It utilizes acceptance and mindfulness strategies to help the client accept the difficulties that come with life. I highly recommend "The Illustrated Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living" by Russ Harris. This is a graphic novel illustrating the principles of ACT Therapy, making it easy to understand and implement into your life.

— Paula Kirsch, Clinical Social Worker in Detroit, MI

My core specialization, I use tenets of ACT in my work as it holistically encapsulates the essence of true healing: learning skills while being holistically congruent with oneself.

— Neil Panchmatia, Counselor in Portland, OR

I use this treatment orientation with anger management, and it works beautifully! Clients, who originally struggled with anger and nothing else was working, saw a amazing difference. I love it!

— Barbara Maulding, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Algonquin, IL
 

I completed a postgraduate workshop in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is a unique empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility means contacting the present moment fully as a conscious human being, and based on what the situation affords, changing or persisting in behavior in the service of chosen values.

— Dr. Laura Simonelli, Psychologist in Harleysville, PA

I admit it, this is my favorite type of therapy. It is practical, doesn't require you to delve into your past if you don't want to, and it provides tools for dealing with the messiness of being a human with a mind and emotions. I have had intensive training in this type of therapy, and I've even taught other therapists how to do ACT.

— Jo Eckler, Clinical Psychologist in Austin, TX

Value driven life is so important for living with purpose and ease. ACT uses a psychological flexibility model which can be beneficial for everyone including those struggling with substance misuse, dysfunctional eating, overwhelming anxiety, depression, and more. Starting with mindfulness practice to narrative repair work, ACT can be used in different intensities. I use components of ACT with individuals, families and groups.

— Lena Sheffield, Licensed Professional Counselor in Miami, FL
 

I have received additional training in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, including a full-day workshop led by one of ACT's earliest developers, Kelly Wilson, and an 8-week foundational intensive course led by another influential ACT practitioner, Russ Harris.

— Kimberly Mathis, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Chattanooga, TN

I love introducing clients to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. In most cases, they haven't had a therapist help them focus on ways to use acceptance, mindfulness to increase psychological flexibility. This helps provide a different way of approaching pain and helps clients get unstuck from multiple issues including anxiety, chronic pain and depression.

— Ginger Houghton, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Bloomfield Hills, MI
 

ACT (pronounced “act”) is an evidence-based model of psychotherapy that is a branch of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It is similar to CBT in it's structure, with an intentional focus on goals and treatment plans and the use of homework. However, ACT differs from traditional CBT in that it is more focused on mindfulness and aims to increase psychological flexibility. The goal of ACT is to work towards “acceptance” of what is outside of your control and to make a commitment to change things

— Todd Schmenk, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Providence, RI

ACT (pronounced “act”) is an evidence-based model of psychotherapy that is a branch of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It is similar to CBT in it's structure, with an intentional focus on goals and treatment plans and the use of homework. However, ACT differs from traditional CBT in that it is more focused on mindfulness and aims to increase psychological flexibility. The goal of ACT is to work towards “acceptance” of what is outside of your control and to make a commitment to change things that are inside your control, in order to improve and enrich your life. ACT does this by helping you utilize mindfulness skills to lessen the impact of painful thoughts and feelings that are an inevitable part of life, clarify values, and make conscious steps toward moving in the direction of those values.

— Allison Karthaus, Psychologist in Boston, MA
 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, known as “ACT” ( is a mindfulness-based behavioral therapy that is different from traditional psychology. It uses a mix of understanding human nature, seeing the difficulties in life, and skills that focus on mindfulness along with a wide range of exercises and values-guided behavioral interventions. Research shows that ACT has solid proof that it works and is based on values, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion, living in the present.

— Kathy Hicks, Counselor in Whitehouse, TX

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, known as “ACT” ( is a mindfulness-based behavioral therapy that is different from traditional psychology. It uses a mix of understanding human nature, seeing the difficulties in life, and skills that focus on mindfulness along with a wide range of exercises and values-guided behavioral interventions. Research shows that ACT has solid proof that it works and is based on values, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion, living in the present.

— Kathy Hicks, Counselor in Whitehouse, TX
 

ACT is a powerful therapy for anyone who wants to make changes in their life, but is unsure of how to do so. It explores two important questions: 1) who do you want to be? and 2) what is holding you back? ACT helps you gain clarity on what matters most to you and how you want to spend your time on this earth. We learn mindfulness skills to deal those painful mental and emotional issues that seem to keep you from moving forward. Paradoxically through acceptance, we learn to create change.

— Karly Hoffman King, Counselor in Montgomery, OH