Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
a form of cognitive behavior therapy based on the premise that ineffective verbal strategies to control one’s thoughts and feelings actually lead to problem behaviors. It helps clients to abandon these restrictive strategies and instead experience and accept their difficult thoughts (conceived as just words put together in a certain way) and feelings as a necessary part of a worthy life. Clients then clarify their personal values and life goals, learn to make life-enhancing behavioral changes accordingly, and develop new and more flexible ways of thinking about and responding to challenges. ACT (pronounced act, not A-C-T) has been applied to a wide variety of problems, including depression, anxiety, stress, and substance abuse. It is based on the relational frame theory of U.S. psychologist Steven C. Hayes (1948– ), proposing, among other concepts, that verbal behavior is a contextually situated, learned ability to relate events arbitrarily; seen within ACT’s framework, verbal behavior, once developed, can create relational rules so extensive that they restrict behavioral repertoires and thereby promote negative psychological outcomes for the individual.