What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

When most people consider addiction treatment, they may envision traditional therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or 12-step programs. However, a newer form of therapy has been gaining traction in recent years—acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and is looking for a new approach, call 910.812.1728 to speak with someone from the caring and compassionate team at Tree House Recovery NC about what our ACT program can do to help.

What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Acceptance and commitment therapy is a form of psychotherapy developed in the 1990s. Its goal is to help individuals achieve psychological flexibility, which means adapting to changing situations while staying true to one’s core values. ACT combines principles of mindfulness and values-based behavior change to help patients live more fulfilling lives.

ACT is based on the theory that psychological suffering is caused by cognitive fusion, which is being overly attached or identified with one’s thoughts and emotions. ACT teaches individuals to observe their thoughts and feelings without judgment and to focus instead on taking meaningful actions based on their values. By doing so, individuals can learn to accept uncomfortable or distressing thoughts and emotions while working towards the life they want.

How Does ACT for Addiction Treatment Work?

Acceptance and commitment therapy can be part of addiction treatment by helping individuals change their relationship with substances and develop alternative coping strategies. ACT helps individuals learn to observe their urges to use and accept them without acting on them. Patients are also taught mindfulness-based practices, such as breathing exercises and body scans, to help them stay present and manage stress and cravings.

ACT also emphasizes values-based behavior change, which means making decisions based on one’s core values rather than the desire to escape uncomfortable thoughts or emotions. Patients are encouraged to identify their values and make decisions that align with them, even when difficult or painful.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Exercises

If you are interested in incorporating acceptance and commitment therapy into your addiction treatment, here are five exercises you can try:

  • Mindful breathing – Set aside a few minutes daily to practice mindful breathing. Focus on your breath and observe your thoughts without judgment.
  • Identifying values – Write down the values that are most important to you. Use these values as a guide when making decisions throughout the day.
  • Defusion exercises – Practice observing your thoughts without getting caught up in them. You can try saying, “I notice that I am having the thought that…” to create distance between you and your thoughts.
  • Mindful eating – Pay attention to the colors, textures, and flavors of the food you are eating. Focus on the experience of eating rather than on distracting thoughts.
  • Values-based action – Make a list of actions you can take that align with your values. Even small actions can help you feel more connected to your values and motivated to continue working towards your goals.

Acceptance and commitment therapy exercises are unique and effective approaches to addiction treatment that focus on mindfulness and values-based behavior change. By learning to observe uncomfortable thoughts and emotions without judgment and making decisions based on core values rather than the desire to escape discomfort, individuals can learn to live more fulfilling lives free from addiction.

Find an ACT Program for Addiction Treatment in North Carolina at Tree House Recovery NC

If you want to incorporate acceptance and commitment therapy into your addiction treatment, speak with a therapist about how to get started with these exercises. Remember, healing is possible, and there are many paths to recovery. Contact Tree House today at 910.812.1728 to learn more about what ACT is and which ACT exercises can help your case.

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