Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

For me, what is appealing is ACT’s combination of mindfulness, values-based action, and a healthy questioning of the power language holds over us (in terms of our thought process). ACT resonates for me in a way that CBT does not. I love that ACT is a bit counter-intuitive, saying, essentially, that we need to accept that pain that inevitably goes with life while moving toward a rich, meaningful life that is based on our values.

I really enjoy using ACT’s metaphors—which take the client away from language-based thinking.  Many of these metaphors are rooted in mindfulness practice. I often use the “quicksand” metaphor:  as with our thoughts, the more you struggle, the faster you sink, so the key is to “open up” and “float” on top of the “quicksand.” Similarly, the “passengers on the bus” metaphor: that we all have “passengers” (trauma history, anxieties) that we must “drive around” with, but the key is allowing the passengers to be there while still driving toward value-based goals.

Another simple ACT technique that I love is putting the words “I’m having the thought” in front of our tough thoughts, as a way of detaching from the thought: “I’m having the thought that I’m stupid,” rather than, “I’m stupid.”

These are just a few. So many more that I love and use, too.

Joe Acciaioli, LCSW #84410 has been a medical social worker for many years and is bringing all his experience working with people in medical and mental health distress to the private practice sector.  Not only is his work in the therapeutic room inspired by the teaching of ACT, but he also offers EMDR for trauma, stress, anxiety, and relationship issues.