Acceptance and Commitment Therapy(or Coaching)
I always think the name sounds a bit intimidating and somewhat “cult-y”. It’s not. ACT is an evidence-based approach that builds from other established therapies and research. It can be considered as training, in which you learn skills that help cope with difficulties and life in general. At it’s core, it’s about being psychologically flexible enough to move towards the life you want and the sort of person you want to be.
What is act?
ACT is based around a set of psychological processes: values, presence, defusion, acceptance, committed action and self-as-context. Research has shown that being skilled in these processes is associated with good health and psychological wellbeing. I invite you to read through the following to see what that looks like. Our work will of course be tailored to your specific need, so that you can learn to apply these skills to improve life for yourself.
Knowing your direction of travel – It’s hard to achieve what you want in life if you are not sure what that is! Similarly, achieving goal after goal is meaningless if you are going in the wrong direction. We will explore what actually matters to you and how you want to live.
Identifying your tangled knots – Sometimes we feel stuck, held back by things like doubt, uncertainty, confidence issues, stress, external circumstances (etc.). We take a good look at what gets you stuck, building your ability to notice and give yourself ways stay out of the trap.
Dropping the struggle (a) stepping back – Do you ever notice the stuff your mind says to you? Does it ever say unhelpful things? Like “you are useless, you’ll never be good enough, nobody likes what you do…”? Or does it say … “it’s too hard, leave it till tomorrow”? Our thoughts can be big barriers to doing what we want to do in life. We learn to deal with them differently.
Dropping the struggle (b) leaning in – when you are trying to do something that is important to you, do you get anxious? feel scared? full of doubt? Sometimes these uncomfortable feelings become barriers to progress and they push us around. We learn some ways to regain control and do what we really want to do.
Doing what matters – right! you can know what matters to you, but doing it is a different thing! Like you can know you want to get fit or lose weight, but actually putting on your training shoes and going out the door is harder. (Or write a novel /set up a business / ….). We look at how you can commit to action.
More than the sum of our parts – there is more to you than the challenge you are here to look at. We widen the lens so that, through ups and downs, you can continue to thrive.
What does this look like in sessions?
This will vary greatly, depending on what you need. ACT is often done in a playful and experimental way, but it’s also about being sensitive and open to our experiences. If we’ve agreed that you want to learn ACT, then we will likely go through some practices, games, metaphors, videos and hypothetical questions. We can play around with these ideas and you try them out in your own life to discover useful tools for yourself.
More often, I’m a bit more subtle with ACT. Often, I focus more on applying it to myself than on teaching you how to do it. For example, it is important to me that I am present, mentally and emotionally, during our sessions; listening to your experience and seeing you, as you are.
With ACT, we also acknowledge that therapist and client are equal. We both have our own vulnerabilities and skills. The emphasis, for me, is on respecting your strengths and struggles while offering something useful.