Discover the benefits of Acceptance Commitment Therapy for Depression Counseling: by Empower Counseling.

What is ACT Therapy?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on helping individuals become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in order to make meaningful changes in their lives. It is based on the idea that our thoughts and emotions are transient and do not define us; instead, we can choose to accept them without judgment and commit to taking action that aligns with our values.

ACT encourages individuals to be mindful of their current experience while also developing psychological flexibility so they can take effective action guided by their deepest values.

ACT employs various techniques such as mindfulness exercises, cognitive defusion, acceptance strategies, commitment processes, and behavior change strategies.

These techniques help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings without getting stuck in them or allowing them to control their behavior. In contrast to other therapeutic approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing negative thought patterns, ACT emphasizes accepting these patterns while still taking action towards desired goals.

ACT may be recommended for individuals experiencing anxiety or depression who are having difficulty managing difficult emotions or making positive changes in their lives.

It can also be beneficial for those struggling with chronic pain or illness due to its emphasis on acceptance rather than avoidance of uncomfortable sensations or experiences. Ultimately, ACT helps people learn how to live a life that is meaningful and fulfilling despite the presence of difficult thoughts and feelings.

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How can ACT help with depression counseling?

As a therapist, I would like to emphasize the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in alleviating symptoms of depression for clients who may be struggling. During my internship years ago, I had the opportunity to compare the progress of clients who received standard cognitive behavioral therapy as a treatment for depression with the clients who received Acceptance Commitment Therapy for their depression counseling.


I measured the progress of both sets of clients with the same outcome questionnaire. Based on the questionnaire results, as well as, self report from clients, those clients who received Acceptance Commitment Therapy for their depression reported more relief from their symptoms of depression. Clients also showed more progress using ACT in fewer therapy sessions.

A Form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Acceptance commitment therapy for depression counseling

ACT for depression is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on developing psychological flexibility, which enables individuals to adapt and respond effectively to difficult thoughts, emotions, and situations. The core principles of ACT include mindfulness, acceptance, and goal-oriented actions, which together help clients address and change negative behaviors, thoughts, and emotions that underlie depression.

In ACT, mindfulness techniques are employed to help clients become more aware of their present experiences without judgment. By doing so, they can develop a more objective perspective on their depressive thoughts and feelings, preventing them from becoming overwhelmed or consumed by them.

Acceptance, another key principle of ACT, involves acknowledging and embracing difficult emotions as a natural part of life, rather than attempting to suppress or control them. This acceptance reduces the internal struggle with negative emotions, allowing clients to redirect their energy towards more constructive pursuits.

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Goal Oriented Actions

Goal-oriented actions, the third core principle of Acceptance Commitment Therapy for Depression, encourage clients to identify their personal values and engage in meaningful activities aligned with these values. By doing so, clients can foster a sense of purpose and fulfillment, which helps counteract the feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness often associated with depression.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of ACT in reducing depressive symptoms and improving overall well-being, such as the research conducted by Zettle and Hayes (1986), which showed significant improvement in clients’ depressive symptoms after participating in ACT treatment.

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Mindfulness Skills:

A therapist utilizing ACT with a client struggling with depression would begin by helping the client cultivate mindfulness skills, teaching them to observe and accept their thoughts and emotions without judgment. Next, the therapist would guide the client in identifying their core values and setting meaningful goals that align with those values.

Finally, the therapist would support the client in taking concrete steps to achieve these goals, promoting behavioral change and ultimately helping the client break free from the grip of depression. Through the integration of mindfulness, acceptance, and goal-oriented actions, ACT offers a powerful therapeutic approach for clients seeking relief from depressive symptoms and an improved quality of life.

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How is Acceptance Commitment Therapy for Depression counseling different from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

As a counseling practice, our therapists at Empower Counseling in Birmingham, Alabama, offer ACT for depression counseling. I would like to highlight the key features and benefits of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in comparison to traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). While both ACT and CBT are considered cognitive-behavioral approaches, there are critical differences in their focus and techniques.


One primary distinction between Acceptance Commitment Therapy for depression counseling and CBT is the emphasis on acceptance of thoughts and feelings in ACT, as opposed to challenging or restructuring them as in CBT. CBT often encourages clients to identify and modify irrational thoughts or cognitive distortions through presenting the evidence that such thoughts are irrational.

Often times when using traditional cognitive behavioral therapy, I noticed that clients were spending too much time in their own heads arguing with these thoughts instead of interaction with others and the world around them.

Mindfulness is a key component of depression counseling

A key component of Acceptance Commitment Therapy for depression counseling as a treatment for depression is that we use mindfulness to simply recognize the thoughts that are unhelpful to you so that you can let them go and get back to being in the present moment enjoying life.

Often times clients with moderate to severe depression struggle with being highly self-critical-calling themselves lazy, stupid, etc. Standard cognitive behavioral therapy does not offer a self-compassion component like ACT does. Through working for years with clients suffering from depression and depression symptoms, the self-compassion component is key to moving toward strong mental health.

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Self Image

How you view yourself and speak to yourself can be a major contributor to having a mental health condition like anxiety or depression. If you are self-critical and do not like yourself, you are likely to remain depressed. The self-compassion exercises based on Acceptance Commitment Therapy have been crucial to relieving major depression for many clients.

ACT places a strong focus on mindfulness and being present in the moment, fostering non-judgmental awareness of thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. This approach enables individuals to develop a more objective perspective on their experiences, which can help reduce the impact of negative thoughts and emotions on their overall well-being.

Value driven behaviors

Another essential aspect of ACT is the emphasis on engaging in personally-motivating, value-driven behaviors. By identifying and pursuing activities that align with their core values, clients can foster a sense of meaning and purpose, which can be particularly beneficial in alleviating symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.

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The Effectiveness of ACceptance Commitment therapy for depression counseling

effectiveness of ACT in treating various mental health issues has been demonstrated through numerous research studies. By utilizing this approach, clients can achieve a greater sense of psychological flexibility, allowing them to adapt and respond effectively to challenging situations. This increased flexibility can lead to improved overall well-being and life satisfaction, making ACT a valuable alternative to traditional CBT for many individuals.

How does the process of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) work?

Our knowledgeable team of counselors at Empower Counseling in Birmingham, Al., , Kathryn, Savannah, and Marti, are all therapists trained in Acceptance Commitment Therapy for Depressive disorders.

We will uncover any unhelpful thoughts and negative thinking, contributing to or causing your depression. We will share mindfulness techniques that will help you deepen your level of awareness of the thoughts you are having that are not helping you and teach you how to let them go.

Instead of fighting the emotions that are the direct result of your unhelpful thoughts, we target the thoughts. The thoughts come first and drive your emotions and your behavior. So after consistently practicing mindfulness you experience more positive moods-not by fighting your emotions, but by not getting sucked in and tangled up with nasty, unhelpful thoughts.

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Behavioral therapy

At Empower Counseling, We will also take a thorough look at your habits and behaviors. Whether your have mild to moderate depression or major depressive disorder, we will ask about your sleep patterns, your diet, your level of movement during the day, your relationship with technology and your devices. We will evaluate what made your depression worse.

When we have many negative and unhelpful thoughts that tends to make us isolate from others and stop doing the things that we used to enjoy doing. This leads to depression. Once depressed your brain tells you that you don’t feel like doing anything so you get more depressed.

Our therapists who are skilled at treating depression will help you change your habits and behavior so you can move away from major depressive disorder toward a more fulfilling and satisfying life

Do all Counselors for depression use ACT as a depression treatment?

No, all counselors do not use ACT for depression counseling. It is important when searching for a counselor for depression that you look for a therapist who only uses methods that have been scientifically proven effective for depression. At Empower Counseling we only use proven methods.

That is why we choose ACT for therapy for depression. Not only have studies proven the effectiveness of ACT for depression therapy, we have seen how well it works for our clients. We have seen so many clients who came to Empower who could barely get out of bed and were unable to be productive with their time. We have seen these same clients progress with their mental health and wellbeing to a place of enjoying life again, setting and taking action toward goals. We have seen some amazing transformations.

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Is it easy to get started with ACT Depression Therapy?

Yes! We have three compassionate, knowledgeable counselors who practice ACT depression therapy. All you need to do to get started is:

  1. Click here and scroll down the homepage to send us a message.
  2. Make an appointment with your ACT counselor
  3. Get to know your counselor.

ACT for depressional counseling is not the only mental health service we offer. At our Birmingham area counseling clinic our mental health professionals also offer anxiety counseling, trauma counseling, counseling for difficult life transitions. We provide more than just talk therapy for teens, therapy for college students, counseling for young adults, and counseling for professionals. Whether you are struggling with mental illness or simply feeling stuck, reach out to Empower Counseling for online or in person counseling today.

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