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  • Dr. Glenn Sloman

Why ACT? Why now?


Human psychological suffering is blind to class, race, ethnicity, social standing, income status, gender, or sex. Psychological suffering does not discriminate; it is universal. We

can see this on the evening news, in newspapers, magazines, social media, and in our conversations with friends, family, and those that we are particularly not fond of.


What is ACT (aka Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)?


Let’s start with the outcome or general way of engaging in life that ACT seeks to create. ACT focuses on increasing psychological flexibility. Hang in there; I’ll attempt to explain using less psychobabble. Consider psychological flexibility as the capacity to adapt to complex life challenges happening inside and outside the person to engage in the world and with others, aligned with what that person cares most about. Internal struggles are wide-ranging and include negative self-talk, uncontrollable worries, overwhelming feelings of sadness and grief, irritability, lack of motivation, anger, and loneliness. External challenges are also wide-ranging and include adjusting to new life circumstances because of changes in status quo (starting or graduating from high ed, new career, job loss, moving), acquiring new roles due to family obligations (parenting, caregiving), interpersonal conflict, physical setbacks from aging/accidents, divorce/separation, loss of those important to us, and a whole host of others. These are just a few challenges we experience, and there is much interplay between the two categories. Unfortunately, the human condition is ripe for psychological suffering!


So, how does ACT fit in…


ACT can help us learn the difference between what we can’t control, what we may influence while not having absolute control over, and what is uncontrollable. These degrees of control or lack thereof include things that happen inside (painful thoughts, feelings, sensations, urges, and memories) and outside of us so that we best spend our efforts in ways that are more useful to help us establish and foster meaning in our lives. Importantly, this can even be done in the presence of significant challenges and setbacks when often it is most needed.


What is so special about ACT compared with other approaches?


ACT uses empirically based processes and procedures tested in over 900 randomized controlled trials to establish itself as an empirically based orientation to help those needing psychological help (https://contextualscience.org/state_of_the_act_evidence). While other approaches have merit, it is the robustness of ACT to address a wide array of human suffering that I have found to be the most helpful for those I support. I keep using it because it keeps working.


In follow-up posts, I’ll go through the different ACT processes to unmask what makes it such a powerful approach to conducting therapy and navigating our often-demanding lives.


TLDR.


Borrowing from a seminal communicator of ACT, Russ Harris- ACT helps us learn to open up, be present, and do what matters when internal and external challenges exist using psychological processes that work.


If you are interested in learning more about how ACT and how it may help you, contact me, Dr. Glenn Sloman, at 321-345-0579 or gsloman@flpsychcenter.com


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