Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a form of psychotherapy that uses various mindfulness strategies, such as acceptance. The purpose of ACT isn’t to eliminate negative thoughts and feelings but rather to accept that they exist. ACT will teach you how to co-exist alongside these hardships by learning how to solve difficult problems and process challenging emotions through the recognition of personal values. This article will discuss what ACT is, how it works, and why it might be the right form of therapy for you during your treatment and recovery from addiction.
Negative Emotions Are Normal
If you have a hard time naming and taming your emotions, or you tend to reject your negative emotions altogether, ACT might be helpful for you. This form of therapy allows you to see things as they truly are. It contextualizes difficult situations and helps you to better understand why you respond to certain experiences the way that you do.
Culturally, you might feel as if your negative emotions are harmful to your health. However, negative emotions like anger, sadness, and stress are a normal part of the human experience. Instead of ignoring your emotions, pushing them to the side, or seeking a solution to feel better, ACT teaches you to fully accept things for the way they are without hesitation or avoidance. This allows you the opportunity to process your emotions as they surface, rather than holding on to them. Remember, despite how controlling our emotions may seem, they are only ever temporary.
The Importance of Knowing Your Values
Your values, or things that are most important to you, are vital to navigating difficult situations. When people act in such a way that aligns with their values, it makes them feel good about their actions. Focusing on your values allows you to respond to problems intentionally rather than falling back on a typical or conditioned reaction. Having awareness of your values can also help you assess why you feel the way you do about specific situations.
For example, if family is one of your core values, the actions that you have toward your family members should embrace that. If there’s strife within your family, you’ll likely feel it more deeply. If you value honesty, dishonesty and lies might cause you more pain. Awareness of your values puts your feelings in context. Then, when you feel compelled to act or respond, you can do so in a way that aligns with your values.
ACT Teaches Mindfulness
Rarely is it helpful to react to difficult situations or attempt to change negative feelings. Sometimes, it’s better to just recognize how you are feeling without judgment. Our culture teaches us that we need to always feel okay and if we don’t then that means that something is wrong. Feeling negative emotions isn’t wrong. It is something that should be embraced. Instead of working hard to change your emotions, ACT teaches you to recognize your emotion, accept it, and then eventually move on. Being mindful of your emotions and what you are currently feeling can help you stay stable. Emotions can easily get out of control, especially if you aren’t consciously aware of them. You won’t realize how you feel until it’s too late and you say or do something you later regret. When you’re aware of your emotions, you are better able to control them.
ACT Offers Perspective
When you consider how your values play into negative emotions or problems in life, you’re able to measure the importance of the issue you are dealing with. Acknowledging your values will help you figure out if the thing that’s bothering you is even worth a reaction. Some things just aren’t as big of a deal as they are initially made out to be. If the problem doesn’t conflict with your values, or it isn’t an enormous issue, then it should not overtake your emotions. You are allowed to feel angry, sad, or stressed, but then give yourself the chance to move on. Awareness of your emotions, and the reality of the situation, can help you gauge how you should react, allowing for better emotional control overall.
How ACT Can Help Addiction Treatment
Emotional instability can be a major contributor to substance use and addiction. Fortunately, ACT is a valuable resource to help you cope with difficult emotions. Instead of searching for temporary relief from a temporary feeling, you can learn to accept how you feel in the moment, as well as why you feel that way. Instead of running away from negative emotions, you can confront them head-on and accept that they exist, instead of letting them completely take over your actions and reactions.
ACT is valuable for addiction treatment because it helps individuals practice accountability for their own thoughts and feelings throughout the recovery process. When individuals have a deeper awareness of why they use substances, they can discover healthier coping mechanisms to replace their substance use and other addictive behaviors.
Acceptance and commitment therapy is a psychotherapy approach that utilizes both behavioral and mindfulness strategies. ACT helps clients to recognize that negative emotions are normal and that having knowledge of personal values will motivate positive behavior. The mindfulness aspect of ACT emphasizes that emotions are always temporary and by accepting negative emotions, an individual can move on more quickly from the situation at hand. ACT is an effective treatment approach for treating SUD and addiction. Fortunately, Bella Monte Recovery Center is a treatment center that values and utilizes acceptance and commitment therapy. We believe that mindfulness strategies are necessary to help individuals cope with the challenging impacts of substance use and addiction. We offer several different treatment programs and therapies to help individualize client care. If you’re interested in learning more about ACT therapy or other therapy modalities that we offer, call Belle Monte today at (800) 974-1938.