Acceptance and Commitment Therapy- (ACT) | How It Can Help You Change Faulty Behaviour
By Do My Essays on Saturday, November 30th, 2019 in No Comments
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT is a clinical therapeutic approach used to help individuals change their intrinsic values. The ACT is an amalgamation of behaviourist and cognitive perspective, which takes advantage of mindfulness and acceptance to facilitate a shift in behaviour.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy was initially created by Stephen Hayes in 1984. The aim of ACT is not to extricate the faulty patterns of thoughts and feelings; rather, it is to allow these feeling to continue their existence without leaving a negative impact on the mental health of individuals.
ACT believes that the individual’s problems occur as a result of psychological inflexibility, defined through the acronym FEAR.
- F- Fusion with thoughts: Cognitive fusion or the fusion with thoughts reflects a person’s ability to become interlocked with negative thoughts. When people perceive their thoughts in a manner that the adverse ideas take over their minds, the outcome is always followed by negative behaviour or a perplexed state of mind. For instance, a person’s inner dialogue is always telling them that they are not good enough. When the individual takes their thoughts literally, their self-esteem and self-image are affected. Hence, their behaviour and the way they act is also negatively impacted.
- E- Evaluation of thoughts/ Emotional Control: Similarly, when the person starts to evaluate their thoughts, they hold on to the negative ones. While evaluating the thoughts and feelings via introspection is a good thing, people tend to grasp the negative or adverse thoughts. As a result of this, individuals attempt to control their emotions. However, in doing so, they mess up their frame of mind as emotions are innate characteristics which need to be accepted and felt. ACT believes that rather than holding on to the antagonist thought processes; one should just slightly touch them.
- A – Avoidance of thoughts: Its human nature to avoid things that make them feel uncomfortable. It’s how the mind is trained to protect the individual. Hence, if any thought is identified to be powerful enough to bring change, the person instantly hesitates.
Due to this innate ability, human beings tend to avoid the thoughts which elicit or evoke an uncomfortable emotion. This can eventually become a source of the problem.
Taking the metaphor of brushing things under the carpet without acknowledging them, it can be seen that the carpet will eventually pile up, and the person would trip and fall as a result of it.
- R- Reason giving for behaviour: Reason giving is a behavioural attitude which coerces people into staying committed to continuing negative behaviour. When people give excuses for their failures, they are refusing to accept the core of the problem. As a result, they are more likely to re-engage in the performance of that behaviour.
When people engage in the above patterns of thinking, they get stuck in a toxic cycle which encumbers their ability to move forward. Hence, they require a change which can cause a break in the pattern. Based on this, ACT comprises of six core principles which can help individuals change their behaviours:
Cognitive Defusion is a technique which aims to reduce the individual’s tendency to interlink their thoughts behaviours and feelings. For instance, a person may allow their fear of being publically embarrassed due to a prior negative experience of being stage fright to stand in the way of future performances. These individuals may avoid situations where they have to speak publically. In such situations, it is imperative for individuals to take a step back and diffuse these thoughts and break the connection between them. Once this connection is broken, the individual can move forward and engage in public speaking.
Acceptance is essential in the ACT. A person should learn to feel comfortable with their negative thoughts and emotions without having to struggle with them.
Contact with the present moment
Contact with the present moment refers to being present in the here and now. The individual must not worry about the future and avoid holding onto the past. Contact with the present moment can also be enhanced by the individual being open, mindful and receptive to the surrounding environment.
The observing self
In the ACT, people are urged to step out of themselves and view the self from a third party perspective. To let go of the faulty behaviour and to change one’s values, the individual is required to see themselves out of the person who they initially perceive themselves as. Hence, the individual can witness the incongruence between their values and behaviour.
The values are the core principle which Acceptance and Commitment therapy aims to alter. Individuals are required to highlight the values that are dear to them and create a direction in which they can change their behaviour to act in accordance with their values. The values system in ACT is one of the most influential aspects. For instance, if a person’s value is working hard, yet they are hiring a write my essay service even when they do not need it, an incongruence between value and behaviour is observed. The individual can then signify this discrepancy and make an aim to change it.
Apparent by the name, ACT comprises of actions, as well as commitment. Committed actions refer to the individual’s ability to remain committed to the goals they have set for themselves. This involves implementing the tasks one has set out for themselves with perseverance and dedication
In order to apply these techniques in a real-life situation, the individual can consider the following aspects:
- Accept the negative feelings
- Highlight an area of life that requires the most change.
- Set goals to make the changes
- Observe and monitor the progress
- Move past the hurdles
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Act) pushes individuals to act on the thought of making a change in their life. This process empowers people to become the best possible version of themselves by highlighting their values and taking actions to achieve their goals. The ACT is applicable for changing small as well as significant behaviours.