Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an action-oriented approach to psychotherapy that has proven to be effective in the treatment of various mental health concerns, including those affecting teenagers. The Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS) explains ACT as a “unique empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility.” The term psychological flexibility refers to emotional openness and the ability to adapt one’s thoughts and behaviors to better align with one’s values and goals. ACT is based on the concept that suffering is a natural and inevitable part of the human condition and proposes that undue suffering and dysfunction arise from attempts to control or eliminate unwanted experiences. ACT maintains the therapeutic goal of helping young people productively adapt to these types of challenges by developing greater psychological flexibility. This is accomplished through six core processes, which include the following, provided by Verywell Mind:
- Acceptance: This involves acknowledging and embracing the full range of your thoughts and emotions.
- Cognitive defusion: Cognitive defusion involves looking at thoughts rather than from thoughts; it is the process of separating yourself from your inner experiences.
- Self as context: This involves learning to consciously observe, experience, and process your thoughts about yourself without attaching your self-value or identity to them.
- Being present: This involves learning to be more mindful and present in the current moment to gain a greater sense of self and events without judgment.
- Values: This involves choosing personal values in different domains and striving to live according to those principles.
- Committed action: This involves taking concrete steps to incorporate changes that will align with your values and lead to positive change.
ACT is a transdiagnostic therapy, meaning its principles can be applied to almost any mental health issue, that offers a more nuanced and counterintuitive therapeutic framework. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a valuable approach in teen mental health treatment due to its emphasis on mindfulness, acceptance, values-based living, cognitive defusion, committed action, and psychological flexibility. By incorporating these principles into therapy, ACT helps teens build resilience, enhance emotional regulation, develop a sense of purpose, and improve their overall mental health and well-being.
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Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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