In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) sessions, the therapist and the client work collaboratively to address psychological challenges and improve overall well-being. The typical structure of ACT sessions involves various activities and discussions centered around the core principles of the therapy. Here’s what happens in ACT sessions:
Introduction and Goal Setting: The therapist begins by explaining the fundamental concepts of ACT and building rapport with the client. They discuss the client’s goals and what they hope to achieve through therapy.
Mindfulness Exercises: Mindfulness is a crucial aspect of ACT. The therapist may start the session with a brief mindfulness exercise to help the client become more aware of their present thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations without judgment.
Identifying Values: The therapist helps the client identify their core values and what matters most to them in life. Values clarification is an essential step in ACT, as it guides the therapeutic process and sets the stage for committed action.
Exploring Challenges: The client discusses specific challenges they are facing, such as anxiety, depression, or relationship issues. The therapist encourages the client to describe their thoughts and emotions related to these challenges.
Cognitive Defusion: The therapist introduces cognitive defusion techniques to help the client recognize and detach from unhelpful thought patterns. These techniques aim to reduce the impact of negative or distressing thoughts on the client’s behavior.
Acceptance: The therapist emphasises the importance of accepting difficult emotions and experiences rather than trying to avoid or suppress them. Acceptance involves allowing these feelings to exist without judgment or resistance.
Committed Action: The therapist helps the client set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that align with their identified values. They encourage the client to take committed action towards these goals, even in the presence of discomfort or challenging emotions.
Homework Assignments: Between sessions, the therapist may assign homework exercises to practice the skills learned in therapy. These may include mindfulness exercises, defusion techniques, or taking actions in line with their values.
Review and Feedback: At the end of each session, the therapist and client review the topics discussed, progress made, and any challenges faced. They may discuss strategies for dealing with obstacles and explore how the client can integrate the principles of ACT into their daily life.
Ongoing Support: ACT is typically conducted over several sessions, and the therapist provides ongoing support and guidance to the client throughout the therapy process.
It’s important to note that each ACT session is tailored to the your unique needs and circumstances. The therapist may adapt their approach based on the client’s progress and challenges. Additionally, ACT sessions may include various experiential exercises, metaphors, and role-plays to illustrate the core principles and facilitate understanding. The collaborative and supportive nature of the therapy helps clients develop psychological flexibility and make positive changes in their lives.