ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy)

Submitted by Aaron on Wed, 07/10/2015 - 12:07pm

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be used to describe a range of modern therapies that have evolved from the initial model of Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis in the latter part of last century.  Sometimes referred to "third wave" therapies, these approaches included DBT (Dialectical behavior therapy), ACT (Acceptance and commitment therapy), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, and Schema-Focused Cognitive Therapy.  While of these new therapy approaches can be considered as a natural advancement on the original therapy CBT techiques (many have added acceptance and mindfulness as components), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy has a different theoretical background and takes a radically different approach to distressing and painful thoughts and feelings.  The main distinction in ACT is to focus on the relationship a person has to internal experiences, rather than the trying to challenge or change the content of thoughts and feelings.  This new perspective allows us to consider unpleasant thoughts and feelings as an expected and normal part of real life - and instead focuses on the unhelpful and inflexible ways we might response to this pain.  Russ Harris has written a number of popular self help books and is one of the leading authors to outline an ACT approach.  The first introduction chapters of The Happiness Trap, The Reality Slap and ACT with Love are all freely available on the internet (see

So when we say a course of CBT - there might be a variety of different approaches and techiques offered.


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