Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

At White House Recovery

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) aims to provide a space where people with substance use disorder (SUD) can learn to overcome challenges by accepting rather than avoiding uncomfortable situations and truths. A 2020 study reported the following. “The core of ACT, when used in SUD treatment, is guiding people to accept the urges and symptoms associated with substance misuse (acceptance) and use psychological flexibility and value-based interventions to reduce those urges and the symptoms (commitment).” Depression and SUD are a few conditions that benefit the most from ACT. 

Depression and SUD have several overlapping risk factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 8% of American adults experienced depression during 2013-2016. That number goes up substantially for individuals with lower income. Some figures put the percentage of depression among adults as high as 15.8% for those living below the poverty line. 

Lower socioeconomic status is also a significant risk factor for developing substance use disorder. A 2013 statistical analysis by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that the rate of drug use among unemployed individuals was 18.2% compared to 9.1% for those who had employment. You can successfully treat the combination of depression and SUD using ACT. 

What Does A-C-T Stand For?

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) incorporates several methods to show you positive ways to overcome symptoms of depression by encouraging you to accept challenging or unwelcome situations and make changes where possible to improve your wellbeing and quality of life. The letters A-C-T can also stand for AcceptChooseTake Action, which perfectly encapsulates what you will learn during acceptance and commitment therapy. 

The primary things you will learn in ACT sessions are:

  • Mindfulness and the importance of living “in the moment”
  • Discovering and analyzing your values 
  • Observing yourself and the world around you and accepting things in an objective way
  • Learning how to choose actions and behaviors that will be more in line with your values and life goals


How can ACT Help You?

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs lists the following ways that acceptance and commitment therapy for depression (ACT-D) is a highly effective variant for people in recovery who have depression as a dual diagnosis. 

  • Provides skills necessary to remain present in the moment, decreasing anxieties and self-doubts brought up by focusing on the past. By connecting with the present moment, these tools allow the person to feel more in control and less overwhelmed. 
  • Teaches observational and critical thinking skills that allow clients to be more open, accepting, and positive. 
  • Allows a safe space for clarifying values and understanding the consequences and motivations behind past actions. To create a happy and fulfilling life, a person must have healthy values and motivations. ACT encourages clients to explore these areas. 

What to Expect From ACT

What to expect from therapy will depend on your therapist and where you are in your recovery journey. Your care plan might include different approaches depending on your current mental health needs. An ACT session typically consists of the following components:

  • Analyzing Self-Talk: You will work through how your self-talk may negatively impact your ability to accept certain circumstances in your life. 
  • Mindfulness: You will learn mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises to help you stay present and become more aware of your surroundings, thoughts, and feelings. 
  • Emotional Control: You will learn to identify emotional responses and reduce them to manageable levels. Often, this process involves recognizing thoughts and behaviors that cause you to feel physically or emotionally stressed and then replacing them with healthier, positive alternatives. 
  • Identifying Values and Motivations: Every therapy session is about working towards a goal. ACT teaches you how to identify your current and desired values and find the motivation to achieve your life goals. 
  • Separating Yourself From Your Experiences: A primary method of self-realization used in ACT is learning how to separate yourself from the things that have happened to you. Thinking in this way can lessen the impact of negative experiences and improve self-esteem. 
  • Building Self-Esteem: You will use exercises and new skills learned in ACT to determine how to identify and accept your strengths and weaknesses to get a more objective view of yourself. You can use these abilities to improve your self-esteem and compassion. 


The Value of Acceptance 

Learning to accept yourself, flaws and all, and the circumstances that you have lived through will go a long way in reducing overall stress and finding peace with yourself. ACT can help you accomplish that by providing you with a place to learn how to ask the right questions to be introspective in a healthy way. Self-reflection can lead to improved self-esteem and a better understanding of what you want out of your life. This form of psychotherapy can be valuable to those in recovery. 

We are here for you

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can help you learn more about accepting yourself and challenging the aspects of your thoughts and behaviors that might be maladaptive. You will learn how to analyze your motivations and find healthier values you can commit to when building your future. Recovery is most effective and successful when there is real change. At White House Recovery and Detox, we believe that everyone has the potential to improve and increase their self-efficacy. ACT is a type of psychotherapy that excels in teaching ways to implement positive self-thoughts to enhance your quality of life.