“You can not stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.” —John Kabat-Zinn
More About ACT for Anxiety Treatment
Through Acceptance Commitment Therapy or ACT, Empower Counseling will help you stop running from anxious thoughts and feelings:
- Through Mindfulness you will learn to notice, understand, and let go of anxious, negative thoughts and feelings instead of being tangled up in them.
- Learn acceptance of all of your thoughts and feelings for what they are – thoughts and feelings that come and go.
- Establish Self-compassion, which will quiet the negative talk leading to anxiety, and lessen the crippling need for perfection.
- Define what is important in your life, what you Value.
- Develop a plan of actions, and the courage necessary to take these actions toward the life you want, switching your focus from anxiety to what is important to you.
- Take control back from anxiety.
When you stop arguing with and running from your anxious thoughts, and instead, make mindful and intentional choices to take action toward the life you want, you take control over your life. By learning mindfulness, you learn to be present and accept the different experiences life brings. Once you realize you can handle and accept all of your thoughts and emotions like waves on an ocean, there is nothing to run and hide from anymore. Once you stop running from anxiety, it loses its power to direct your life. When you establish self-compassion, you not only quiet this inner-critic which inflames anxiousness, you let go of crippling perfection, and begin living life to the fullest. It is no longer scary to try something you have always wanted to try because you no longer judge every experience as a failure or a success!
How do you know ACT is an effective anxiety treatment?
First, there is science behind it. Studies have shown ACT’s effectiveness in treating many forms of anxiety including, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, Performance Anxiety, Panic Disorder, OCD, and PTSD. ACT helps you take your life back from anxiety. With ACT comes control and power.
Second, I have seen ACT change many of my clients lives in amazing ways! While working in the University of Alabama Birmingham Community Counseling Clinic I had the chance to use ACT therapy with my clients. When I began working in the clinic, I used traditional cognitive behavioral therapy with my clients, like all of the other counselors in the clinic. When I learned about ACT and studied it in depth, I asked the director of the clinic, if I could use Acceptance Commitment Therapy with my clients. He said that ACT had good science behind it and the reason it is not taught and used more, is that it is complicated. He encouraged me to learn as much as I could about ACT, and when I felt comfortable, to use it with my clients and track their progress. I did that. I studied ACT, read books, watched videos made by the creator of ACT, and used it with my clients. (Since then, I have become advanced trained in ACT). I tracked their progress by self-report (clients telling me if their symptoms were getting better). I also tracked progress by using an Outcome Questionairre 45, a tool to determine if an evidenced-based theory is successful in reaching its goals, and lessening symptoms. OQ’s assess symptom distress and quality of life. Client after client showed huge progress using ACT. I saw OQ scores drop dramatically, which is great, because it meant symptoms were lessening and clients were doing more of what they wanted to do in their lives, and suffering less. Not only did the OQs show great progress, my clients reported significant drops in their levels of distress. By the end of therapy, many clients reported they were free from all of their prior symptoms. I also noticed that as the grip of anxiety became weaker and weaker, my clients’ levels of confidence grew greater and greater. In theory, this is because facing what scares you and not backing down, vs. running from it, makes you feel like you can handle anything that life throws at you. This is also why I have found ACT very successful in helping clients with low self-esteem as well.