Acceptance Commitment Therapy: What makes ACT different by Empower Counseling?

Acceptance Commitment Therapy is an action oriented therapy. Act stems from cognitive-behavioral therapy and  from traditional behavioral therapy.

This particular form of therapy was developed by Steven C. Hayes, and was born from his own experience with panic attacks. It was literally invented for anxiety. Hayes got to a point with his anxiety and panic attacks that he vowed he would no longer run from himself.

What Makes ACT Different by Empower Counseling?

Hayes’ ACT was a radical shift. Anxiety tempts us to avoid, to struggle with, to deny our inner emotions. So we run from or do battle with who we are, what we think, and what we feel because it seems logical that if we fight hard enough we will eventually be triumphant over anxiety. But anyone who has ever had a panic attack knows deep down that the fear after experiencing that first panic attack, worrying about the next one, starts you down the path of doing almost anything to avoid having that experience again. It’s not only logical, it’s instinctual to do so. But it is not helpful.

What Steven Hayes recognized was when he stopped battling his own emotions, and accepted them, things began to turn around for him. He realized he no longer had to play victim to his own brain…his own thoughts. It is not about avoiding at all cost what you don’t want. It is about focusing on what you do want.

Acceptance Commitment Therapy addresses thoughts and behaviors or actions. At Empower Counseling, our ACT trained therapists, Kathryn, Adam, and Kristine, use Acceptance Commitment Therapy to help anxious, obsessive, depressed or addicted clients move away from psychological rigidity and toward psychological flexibility. Have you ever seen one of those tall skinny blow up creatures at a car lot…the kind that fall toward the ground only to snap back up straight at the last second? That is what pychological flexibility looks like….you may bend when life gets difficult but you don’t break.

As Hayes states, “Acceptance, mindfulness, and values are key psychological tools needed for that transformative shift”.

Acceptance, Mindfulness, and Values

At Empower Counseling, through ACT, we help clients move from an anxious place in which everything causes worry or upset, to a place of mindfulness and intention, in which they are thinking about and acting toward what they want their lives to look like. ACT is a scientifically proven effective treatment for anxiety and depression, among other issues, that is made up of 6 core processes.

But today to keep it simple, let’s look at acceptance, mindfulness, and values.


We as a culture seem to learn and then teach that “negative” emotions like sadness, anger, etc. should be avoided, fixed or changed, rather than accepted. It is not humanly possible to only experience “positive” emotions. To expect one to not experience negative emotions in life is unreasonable and unattainable. By accepting our entirety of humanness, all of our emotions, including the “negative” ones, we no longer have to put time, effort and energy into avoiding these emotions. By accepting them, they lose a great deal of their power and make the human “struggle” actually less of a struggle. To experience a satisfying and fulfilling life we must allow ourselves the full range of emotions that come with life. We can not experience the heights of joy without allowing for sadness.


We don not choose the first thought that comes into our brains. But through mindfulness practice, we can decide what to do with that thought. Thoughts determine our emotions, and thoughts and emotions determine our actions. If you are having anxious “what if” thoughts right after you think about a goal or something you would like to do in life, those “what if’s” might very well stop you from taking action. With mindfulness, the counselors at Empower Counseling can teach you how to recognize your unhelpful thoughts so that they are no longer a barrier to you taking action.

Values: What MAKES ACT different by Empower Counseling

Once Empower Counseling helps you learn how to recognize and let go of the thoughts leading to anxiety or depression, it is time to work on the behavioral aspect of ACT. It is time to dive into to values. You may be asking what values have to do with action. EVERYTHING! Your values are your compass, guiding you to the actions that will lead you away from anxiety and depression, toward a more satisfying life. Taking action toward what you value will help you gain self-confidence and self-assuredness.

Through ACT exercises we help clients learn mindfulness, and achieve an ability to live in the present moment rather than in the past or future-where anxiety necessarily lives. We help clients learn how to mindfully and intentionally respond, rather than react, to their thoughts and experiences. After becoming more aware of the thoughts are unhelpful to you- the thoughts creating anxiety or depression-you will learn mindfulness techniques to let go of these thoughts.

What makes ACT Different by Empower Counseling?

Acceptance Commitment Therapy is different from other forms of therapy. This therapy is for clients who are ready to make a change in their lives but aren’t sure how or where to start. ACT is for clients who have tried other methods to get rid of their anxiety or depression. ACT is for clients who are ready to live more satisfying and fulfilling lives.

It is easy to begin Acceptance Commitment Therapy online or in person with one of our knowledgeable and compassionate therapists. We offer ACT for teen counseling, ACT counseling for college students, ACT counseling for young adults, and ACT counseling for professionals.

It is simple to get started:

Just email Empower Counseling from the bottom of the home page our website by clicking here then scrolling down.

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