What is ACT?

Introduction to ACT

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of psychological therapy derived from the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness. It teaches people how to learn to live with unpleasant or painful thoughts and feelings, allowing them to live their lives more freely, without painful thoughts or feelings getting in the way.


How ACT works

All of the YWP sessions are based on ACT. The theory behind ACT states that humans get caught in cycles of unhelpful action which is directed at trying to eliminate or control painful thoughts and feelings. While these actions are understandable, they tend to shut one’s world down, leading them away from the people, situations and goals that matter most to them.

Below is an example to demonstrate how ACT can help us:

Jamie is very shy and gets very nervous when she meets new people. She often avoids situations where she might have to get to know new people, because she is too worried about what they will think of her.

Unfortunately, this gets in the way of things that are important to Jamie; for example, she is an excellent basketball player and wants to join a local team, but worries about the social side of joining the team and decides not to try out.

Through ACT, Jamie could learn to better understand and handle some of the negative thoughts and feelings she has about herself in social situations, so that these do not have to stop her from doing what she wants to do.

People are taught how to use the ACT ideas to re-evaluate coping strategies to examine how well their ways of coping are helping them to live a rich and meaningful life.

In an ACT intervention, people learn how to accommodate their painful thoughts and feelings, so that they can turn their actions towards the things that matter to them. Recent studies presented that significant positive effect on overall wellbeing was found for ACT-based interventions compared with control groups in the general population (van Agteren et al., 2021).

van Agteren, J., Iasiello, M., Lo, L., Bartholomaeus, J., Kopsaftis, Z., Carey, M., & Kyrios, M. (2021). A systematic review and meta-analysis of psychological interventions to improve mental wellbeing. Nature Human Behaviour, 5(5), 631–652. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01093-w

Scroll to Top