Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a therapeutic approach that involves mindfulness, values, and committed action. ACT is a helpful treatment modality for those who cannot overcome negative thoughts. ACT acknowledges that hardship and emotional pain are a part of the human experience. Through accepting this reality, your perspective shifts, creating more fulfillment in your life. By shifting how you interact with your thoughts and experiences instead of resisting them, you can create space for living a life that is guided by your values. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy has been proven to be an effective treatment modality for anxiety, depression, psychosis, chronic pain, eating disorders, and addiction.

Psychological Flexibility

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy works toward the goal of psychological flexibility: the ability to openly connect to the present moment while taking actions that are in alignment with our values. Developing psychological flexibility involves six core processes: acceptance, cognitive defusion, presence, sense of self, values, and committed action. Psychological flexibility can be achieved through contact with the present moment. Through presence, we can shift from the thinking self to the observer self, identify values, commit to actions in alignment with those values, and work toward acceptance of and distance from thoughts. When it comes to ACT, the key differentiator from other modalities of treatment is the ongoing encouragement of acceptance as the individual navigates their difficulties.

Cognitive Fusion and Experiential Avoidance

Cognitive fusion and experiential avoidance are thought patterns that keep us stuck in unhelpful patterns and habits. You may be struggling with cognitive fusion if you feel as though your thoughts are controlling you and you can’t seem to get distance from them. The ACT concept of defusion outlines how you can get distance from these thoughts to see them for what they are: words and pictures that your mind uses to communicate with you. Through defusion, you are no longer fixated on negative thoughts but can shift your attention to what is positive and supportive of your evolution.

Experiential avoidance occurs when you actively avoid difficult or painful experiences. We often want to rid ourselves of difficult thoughts or feelings, but the ways that we do this can have harmful consequences (i.e. drinking to cope with anxiety or stress). Experiential avoidance can increase your suffering in the long run. Through learning to defuse from unhelpful thoughts and interact with your negative experiences with more awareness, you create a pathway to living a fulfilled life in the present moment.


A key quality of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is that the techniques are paired with mindfulness. As you step toward the goal of psychological flexibility, defuse your thoughts, and overcome habits of avoidance, mindfulness is then the tool that takes you into positive growth. Being present is ultimately the method for accepting the circumstances and challenges in your life. A sense of mindfulness allows us to work through our life’s circumstances with ease rather than resistance, in a way that opens up space to create what we desire.

Colorado CBT is a Denver based clinic with several clinicians with advanced training in providing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. To learn more and discuss if ACT would benefit you, reach out to make an appointment!