Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT, can help you to engage fully in your life. If you missed the introductory post on this approach to ACT you can find it here:
The Open and Centered posts, which make up 2 of 3 areas of the Hexaflex model, can be found here.
Welcome to the third part of the Hexaflex model. What you will learn:
- What being Engaged means in ACT
- Committed Action
There are 6 key concepts in ACT and learning how to apply them promotes psychological flexibility. They are as follows:
ACT breaks these concepts down into 3 areas which are “Open,” “Centered,” and “Engaged.” Psychological distress originates from within these three areas.
You have one shot at life. Are you a side-lines and/or an avoidant type or do you jump in at the risk of sanity? Regardless, we can all benefit from engaging fully in our lives. This aspect of ACT is where we bring meaning in.
Vitality is not given. It’s earned. You earn it through the choices you make throughout your journey and your participation in fulfilling activities. These, then, reinforce the sense of meaning you have found to be true to your life. It’s quite beautiful actually.
ACT believes this can be accomplished through two methods. Your values and committed action will help you to prosper. It’s up to you on how you go about doing this.
I’m sure you already know what values are. It’s not here to educate you about them. ACT pushes you to clarify them. Fine-tune them, if you will. Also, it sees your values as a direction in which to take your life. It is important to remember values are freely chosen by you.
There are many ways to clarify your values. ACT has a number of methods. One way to do this in a therapeutic relationship is to utilize a card sort. You can also buy a set and do this alone. They are truly enlivening and help you to hone in on your true set of values.
ACT has a metaphor to describe values. It’s called the Value Target:
- Each value has its own target board.
- In darts, you aim for the “bulls-eye” but you don’t always hit it.
- Sometimes you do hit the “bulls-eye” and it can feel great.
- When you miss the board completely it can feel awful.
- We try to aim towards the center of our values.
- It’s unrealistic to think every dart you throw towards the target will be a “bulls-eye.”
Lastly, values are not goals. Values are unattainable. Goals are attainable. We use our values to direct our goals. The following video describes this in detail:
Commitment in ACT is similar to the commitment we already know and love but there are some differences. ACT says that you can demonstrate committed action right away. Small steps have power to them.
Imagine a fork in a road. You choose to go right or left. The moment you step in either direction is committed action. Lets say you’re hesitant about going back to school. You get online and fill out an info card to get something mailed to you. Boom! Committed action. It’s that simple. It’s not getting married to the thing you want to do. Though, it certainly can be if you’re ready to take that step.
Committed action is also values-based. Refined values help distinguish our goals. Committed Action helps distinguish the choices we make to reach our goals. Keep in mind that this is a process and there will be times for leaps and bounds as well as time for tiny steps. You may be going forward for a bit and then, all of a sudden, backpedal some. Life isn’t easy at times nor is it fair.
This is ACT in a nutshell. Thank you for joining me over the weeks as we talked about ACT. I encourage you to study this approach to mental health more if any part of it stuck out to you. I have been applying it in my own life and will stand by how incredible it works. Feel free to contact me with questions.
Need more info? Go to the sources themselves!
The ACT workbook will set you on a journey of a lifetime. I have done it and it is awesome! Mental health workbooks, of any kind, aren’t for me but this one is very different and you can see the changes in your life in about every page you read and activity you partake in. Click on the image to get a copy. It is very affordable and one of the best things you could do!
Here is the 2nd edition of the ACT Clinician Text. This explains everything about ACT and how to apply it in your own life and in the lives of others. If you are a clinician or work with others in either the mental health field or medical field, this is a must read! A bit more pricey but a life changer for sure. Click on the image to get a copy.