What is ACT?

Pretty much all of us will struggle with unwanted and uncomfortable mental experiences in the form of thoughts, emotions and memories at some stage in our life.  In the workplace, these experiences are often brushed off or seen as trivial.

Yet all statistics show that at one end of the spectrum, the ability to focus and become engaged in one’s work brings far better results in terms of productivity, innovation and learning.  And at the other end of the spectrum, the ability to cope effectively with stress, anxiety and uncertainty predicts less burnout, less absenteeism and lower turnover.

Acceptance and Commitment Training (or ACT) is a new, evidence-based (now over 100 RCTs) cognitive behavioural intervention which works at both ends of the spectrum.

In a nutshell, ACT helps people to change their relationship to difficult thoughts and emotions, in the service of constructing a life around what really matters to them.

ACT involves learning a number of mindfulness skills in order to deal with thoughts and emotions more effectively.  Yet this is mindfulness for the messiness of real life.  It is mindfulness with a purpose.  So there is a strong emphasis on connecting with one’s inner values and seeing these values realised in everyday life through action.

Put simply, ACT is an extremely powerful approach in helping people to live the life that they truly want, rather than the life that their thoughts and emotions would dictate.

Want to read more?

A lovely non technical overview of ACT by Russ Harris

The Time interview with Steve Hayes here


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