ACT (pronounced act) stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and is an amazing style of therapy that works great for couples!
ACT focuses on 3 main areas:
1. Accepting our emotional reactions while staying present
2. Using values to guide our actions
3. Committing to taking action and creating growth
Accepting & Staying Present
ACT is primarily a mindfulness based therapy that helps couples accept and validate all of their emotional experiences by removing shame and avoidance. This process is guided by the idea that there is validity not only in the emotional experience we have, but the one that our partner has as well. Often when we have an emotional reaction that leaves us feeling stuck, it’s because it’s rooted in something that’s happened in our past. With ACT, partners learn how to acknowledge their past with compassion and let go of unhelpful thoughts that keep us from being in the current moment together. Partners learn to identify their inner voice – the one that judges themselves and their partners – and create space in their awareness to be able to move through difficult moments together.
Values Guided Actions
Everyone has their own set of values, and every couple has a set of shared values that help guide them towards goals. Through identifying core values and exploring our conscious and subconscious beliefs about how to behave within those values, couples are able to build upon strengths and step out of common myths about how to be. When we think about how we “should” be in the context of a relationship, we become rigid in our thinking. By refocusing on our value, instead of the rules we have about it, partners can create workable strategies for compromise and validation.
Commitment to Action & Growth
ACT prompts couples to take the lessons they learn about mindfulness and values to determine a course of action that moves them closer to their goals. By committing to action couples are able to take tangible steps towards living in congruence with their personal and shared values. Couples work together to set goals, agree on boundaries, and maintain a mindset of openness to more workable ways of being in a relationship.
Emma is a therapist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at A Better Life Therapy. Emma specializes in working with millennials and modern couples facing stressors around prolonged higher education, financial difficulties due to debt or starting new careers, delayed “life moves”, and infidelity and insecurity involving social media.
This content was originally published here.