You go to the therapist and talk for an hour.
Yet, for some, it can feel as if little is accomplished during that time.
Of course, you’ve read how discussing your feelings is important for your personal therapy. Though you feel like you need something more.
You have gained insight. Is insight enough to change your life? It can only go so far. It takes a more. Check out a guest post I wrote for a colleague of mine, Khara Croswaite Brindle, Action over Insight: Why You Should Be Asking “What?”
This is where ACT therapy can help, especially the “C” part. That’s because it involves a commitment to action based on your values and the goals that you have created for yourself. It turns therapy from a passive practice to a more ACTon-oriented approach.
How Most People View Therapy
Typically, when you imagine a therapy session, there’s the stereotypical scene of you and the therapist in an office. There might even be a couch to lie down on while you talk about your thoughts and feelings.
Traditional talk-therapy has been around for a very long time. And make no mistake about it, talk-therapy can be helpful on your therapeutic journey. At times, however, it may feel that you are just doing the same thing over and over. Digging up past wounds and a history riddled with pain and suffering. Or maybe the hurt you feel in living your life day in and day out.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), offers something different. It helps you to accept what you are struggling with and then commit towards making a desired change. The objective of many models of talk-therapy is to focus on symptom reduction. The ACT approach is how to create a fulfilling and meaningful life worth living. The by-product of this approach is the symptoms take a back seat.
What Does “Commitment” Mean?
The real game-changer in ACT therapy is the “C” part of the program—commitment.
It’s not unheard of in traditional therapy for clients to discuss, understand, and accept the issue or problems they are struggling with. But what then?
Commitment or committed action picks up where other methods may drop off. With commitment, you are dedicating yourself to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself. These goals are aligned with resolving the therapeutic issues that you may be struggling with.
Examples of goals can include:
- Socializing more to be with other people because you value connection
- Reducing how anxiety controls your life by taking steps to gently hold your anxiety while pursuing something scary. For me, that is public speaking
- Overcoming isolation that happens when you feel depressed by doing something like taking a walk or calling a friend
- Talking with respectful language when you are experiencing the urge to yell when you feel angry
How Commitment Empowers You
With committed action, you get to have a choice with how you resolve your issues. Of course, you have help from a skilled ACT therapist who can guide you through the process.
This is especially helpful with formulating appropriate goals and matching them with potential solutions by connecting those goals with the things that matter most to you – your values.
Yet, you do get to choices on how to address the problems. That’s really empowering, especially for those who have participated in other kinds of therapy and felt they have done the work of building good insight.
Integrating Your Values into Committed Action
As mentioned before, identifying your values is part of ACT. When you are taking committed action, you do so by using those values as a framework. Your values are like your north star in the big sky of life. We all need a north star or a least a lighthouse to guide us in a desired direction.
That’s how ACT can be so empowering. You are taking committed action based on your own values and beliefs, not those of others. Thus, you end up have a personalized treatment plan just for you.
For example, let’s say that reflection or introspection is important for you. You can work with your therapist to integrate mindfulness exercises that allow you to implement that value.
Establish Long-Term Change
Committed action enables you to more effectively implement lasting change rather than changes that are short-lived. That’s because it’s you who is creating the roadmap for change. To learn how values and goals are related check out this post I wrote a while back.
When you have ownership over anything in life, it instantly becomes more meaningful. This is true whether you are developing a project at work or making lasting change in your personal life.
But What If I Slip-Up?
That’s okay! Making mistakes is all part of the therapeutic journey and quite honestly a part of life. If your commitment slips with one or more aspects of your plan, you can start again where you left off. If you get off track you can get back on track. My job is to help you discover ways to get back on track. Sometimes we get stuck. With ACT stuck is often pointing toward something that is important to you but maybe not well defined.
This is another reason why working with a therapist who understands ACT is helpful. They will be part of your support system that can get you back on track towards achieving your goals.
Often, when you think of therapy, it’s “all-talk” but no action. Yet, with ACT, you are choosing to take action based on your values and goals.
With the help of an ACT therapist, you can make the lasting change that you’ve always wanted. Please contact me for more information today.