By: Julie Sekachev, M.Ed, LPC Associate Supervised by Melissa Barton, MA, LPC-S Have you heard of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for treating Anxiety? Have you tried just about anything to help you stop the anxious thoughts? Does challenging your anxious thoughts to seem like an uphill battle? Sometimes clients say that even though they […]
By: Julie Sekachev, M.Ed, LPC Associate
Supervised by Melissa Barton, MA, LPC-S
Have you heard of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for treating Anxiety? Have you tried just about anything to help you stop the anxious thoughts? Does challenging your anxious thoughts to seem like an uphill battle? Sometimes clients say that even though they know that there is almost zero chance that the things they worry about will come true, it is not enough to stop them from worrying. Anxiety is often irrational, and ACT can be a radically different way to stop the overwhelm.
What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was created by Dr. Steven C. Hayes (learn more about ACT here.)
It is a form of therapy that emphasizes being open to the experience (i.e., depression, anxiety, worry, fear, etc.) without pushing it away. Instead of arguing with our thoughts, we learn to develop a different relationship with them, one based on acceptance. So rather than the traditional methods you may have tried before, such as rationalizing your thoughts or changing them, we work on allowing them to be there while focusing our energy on things we can control.
With ACT, we “actively and willingly receive our thoughts, emotions, and histories” instead of pushing back on thoughts, which sometimes can strengthen their power over us.
How To Get Started:
Imagine that you have a stressful upcoming event, such as planning a party. What might an ACT-based approach look like?
Step 1: Distancing
Practice the art of diffusion. Diffusion is thinking of thoughts and feelings outside ourselves, like passing sensations or irrational messages outside us. We may notice our negative thoughts saying, “The party will be a total failure.” Such a negative thought is about how things could go or what may or may not happen. This awareness changes our relationship to the ideas we have. It could also help to write your thoughts down. When you write things down, it gives you a physical distance from your thoughts. The goal of distancing or diffusion is to realize that you are not your thoughts. Your mind, or “the thought machine,” creates many different positive and negative thoughts daily.
Step 2: Accepting
Accepting a particular situation, a personality trait, an overwhelming emotion, or an uncomfortable sensation within ourselves allows us to move passed obsessing, worrying, and ruminating. Usually, we get stuck if we try to stop thoughts from occurring, minimize them, block them out, or ask why certain events, feelings, or situations keep arising.
Instead, allow your thinking to be flexible. Notice any thoughts that you have that appear to be helpful. Maybe you can think, “my party doesn’t have to be perfect,” or “I have hosted some great parties before.” Instead of policing our anxious thoughts, we can allow them to take some space in our minds but focus our attention on what is most important.
Step 3: Focus on Your Values
Think of a car analogy. When you try to rationalize or eliminate your thoughts, you kick them out of the metaphorical car. With ACT, however, you are taking control of the wheel. The anxious thoughts may arise, but they are not our focus. They are simply there in the back seat and can stay there, but we can choose if we decide to focus on them or enjoy the ride.
If you would like more information on ACT, click here for the book Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life by Steven Hayes.
Begin Treatment for Anxiety with Acceptance and Commitment (ACT) Therapy in Katy, TX:
If you are ready to find out how to tame anxious thoughts, the therapists at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch can help! We provide therapy to people of all ages. To begin counseling in Katy, TX, follow these three steps:
- Contact our office to set up an appointment or to get more information about healthy ways to manage anxiety.
- Meet with one of our caring therapists.
- Find peace in your life with anxiety counseling!
Other Therapy Services We Offer:
Here at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch, we offer counseling services for people of all ages in areas including counseling for kids, counseling for young adults, teen counseling, couples counseling, eating disorder treatment, men’s issues, women’s issues, anxiety treatment, depression therapy, trauma counseling, family therapy, and group counseling. Our therapists strive to post blogs regularly. We provide helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. To learn more about our therapists and counseling services, please reach out to the Counseling Center today!