Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ACT Part 3 The Basics

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ACT Part 3 The Basics

Posted 2016-04-03 by Justine lovittfollow
Once we mindfully connect with the present through acceptance, our values give our life meaningful direction. Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Part 3 of my journey discusses the principles of Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) .These are essentially “mindfulness” and “values”. This allows you to create, Russ Harris states a "rich, full and meaningful life". (Page 44 The Happiness Trap Pocketbook".

Being mindful essentially means you are aware and open. There are 3 skills that constitute mindfulness.

1. Skill 1 :Defusion. This allows you to create a ‘space’ between you and your distressing thoughts, beliefs and feelings. You see your cognitive processes for what they are, just thoughts and feelings. You do not have to ‘fuse’ or connect with them, and thus get psychologically caught up in. This is the first skill that allows you to be mindful or present.

Skill 2: Expansion or Acceptance. This involves not trying to consciously suppress, or fight with unpleasant thoughts, feelings and sensations. Instead you just allow them to be. By stopping the struggle with them, and at the same time not fusing with them, you allow them to flow through you. This is the second skill that constitutes mindfulness. Imagine your unwanted thoughts are like a beach ball which you are trying to keep under water in the ocean. If you try to sit on top of the beach ball it is always struggling to come to the surface. However if you allow the beach ball to just sit beside you, but you don't interact with it, you're aware that it's there but it doesn't have to affect you.

Skill 3: Connection. Fully connecting with the present moment, not being in the past or the future. This is the third mindfulness principle.

Once you are mindful, you allow yourself to head in a direction that is in line with your values.

Values are:
1. How you want to behave
2. What you believe in – for example: “honesty”, “kindness” and “giving of yourself” may be examples of what you stand for.
3. What you use to give you your life “meaning, purpose and direction”. (page 45 – The Happiness Trap Pocketbook by Russ Harris & Bev Aisbett.

Accepting your present situation utilising the 3 skills of mindfulness and moving in the direction of your personally defined values constitutes the basics of what Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) is about.


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