Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) - Social Anxiety Forum

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post #1 of 77 (permalink) Old 02-26-2010, 09:30 AM Thread Starter
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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is related to a transcendental philosophy and incorporates many of the same methods as CBT. ACT differs from CBT not in the way it is administered, but in how patients are instructed to think about their anxiety. While CBT focuses on changing emotional responses and feelings, ACT focuses on accepting them and moving forward from that point.

There is little scientific research as to the benefits of ACT, however, many patients report that is has helped them discover more about their disorder and how to manage it by discovering more about themselves and their emotional wellness as a whole.

More info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accepta...itment_Therapy
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post #2 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-16-2010, 10:33 AM
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ACT Experience

I am posting the summary of my experience on this page with the hope that other members will share their experiences as well.
Some months ago I enrolled in a study made by the Drexel University. My therapist used the ACT (Acceptance and Commitment therapy) to help me face my social anxiety. I have also read two useful books about it.
I briefly state what I have learned:
It is not possible to control your thoughts or feelings, and I soon realized this by looking back at my life experiences.
What I have learned is that thoughts are just words in my mind, so toughts are just thoughts, and feelings are just feelings. It looks something logical, but it is very difficult to recognize this in a social context when you experience fear and worry. If I think that I won't be able to speak to a group of people (because of my social anxiety) in that specific situation for example, that does necessarily means that it's going to be true. Being aware that my thought is just a thought is a big step in facing a social situation. The same is true for feeling. ACT helped me to become a better observer.
I have learned that there are two parts of me: a thinking-self, and an observer-self.
The thinking self produces all the possible thoughts: positive, negative, or neutral.
The observer-self is instead that part of me that is aware of what I am thinking, that observes the environment around me and inside me (thoughts and feelings).
Developing the skill of identify these two parts is a key in ACT.
The other fundamental concept is ACT is to live a life based on your values and goals.
There is a bing difference between values and goals.
A value is an on-going process, something that never ends. For example, caring about other people is a value.
A goal is a process that has an end. For example, getting a degree is a goal. Once you get the degree, you reached your goal.
In order to live a meaningful life it is important, first to identify your values and then your goal underlying the values.
Worry and fear will always be part of our path, because is a biological part of being a human being. The important aspect is to act based on your values and goals and never stop our trip because of the obstacles.
This is a brief description of what I have learned in theory. Now I am trying to put this in practice, that is to become a better observer, to accept and be aware of my thoughts and feeling, and to act based on my values and goals.
If you have any experience on this matter, please reply to me. Sharing information is a great tool to improve our life.
Thanks
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post #3 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-16-2010, 10:39 AM
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ACT Experience

I am posting the summary of my experience on this page with the hope that other members will share their experiences as well.
Some months ago I enrolled in a study made by the Drexel University. My therapist used the ACT (Acceptance and Commitment therapy) to help me face my social anxiety. I have also read two useful books about it.
I briefly state what I have learned:
It is not possible to control your thoughts or feelings, and I soon realized this by looking back at my life experiences.
What I have learned is that thoughts are just words in my mind, so toughts are just thoughts, and feelings are just feelings. It looks something logical, but it is very difficult to recognize this in a social context when you experience fear and worry. If I think that I won't be able to speak to a group of people (because of my social anxiety) in that specific situation for example, that does necessarily means that it's going to be true. Being aware that my thought is just a thought is a big step in facing a social situation. The same is true for feeling. ACT helped me to become a better observer.
I have learned that there are two parts of me: a thinking-self, and an observer-self.
The thinking self produces all the possible thoughts: positive, negative, or neutral.
The observer-self is instead that part of me that is aware of what I am thinking, that observes the environment around me and inside me (thoughts and feelings).
Developing the skill of identify these two parts is a key in ACT.
The other fundamental concept is ACT is to live a life based on your values and goals.
There is a bing difference between values and goals.
A value is an on-going process, something that never ends. For example, caring about other people is a value.
A goal is a process that has an end. For example, getting a degree is a goal. Once you get the degree, you reached your goal.
In order to live a meaningful life it is important, first to identify your values and then your goal underlying the values.
Worry and fear will always be part of our path, because is a biological part of being a human being. The important aspect is to act based on your values and goals and never stop our trip because of the obstacles.
This is a brief description of what I have learned in theory. Now I am trying to put this in practice, that is to become a better observer, to accept and be aware of my thoughts and feeling, and to act based on my values and goals.
If you have any experience on this matter, please reply to me. Sharing information is a great tool to improve our life.
Thanks
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post #4 of 77 (permalink) Old 09-07-2010, 11:36 AM
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Hey everyone. I have done months and months of traditional CBT to treat SAD. I am seeing a therapist now and she suggested we do ACT. I am coming here to find information on how effective it is and to hear everyone elses opinions, and give some of my own if I start using it. Good to hear other people have heard of it or used it. Thanks!
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post #5 of 77 (permalink) Old 09-08-2010, 03:44 AM
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Wow, never heard of this before!
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post #6 of 77 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 10:46 AM
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Rocky78 described ACT very well. In sum, ACT helps us get distance from ourselves... it allows us to step back out of the chaos of our own minds and bodies and examine it from a neutral point of view.

For instance, I used to be "merged" with my thoughts. My thoughts were me. The thought that "I am an awkward loser" defined me. I really believed that I was an awkward loser and I needed to fix myself by becoming a winner. But ACT helped me take a step back and realize that the I'm-a-loser story was just a thought in my mind, and I didn't have to believe it or call it "the truth" about myself.

It's helpful to look at moods first for a comparison, because a lot of us already see moods for what they are... we are already practicing ACT in a limited way. When most of us get in a "bad" mood, we call it what it is: "I'm in a bad mood guys, leave me alone for a while until this mood goes away." We see it as a temporary set of feelings. When we are in a bad mood, we don't accept that we are a bad person. We see ourselves as a normal person who just happens to be in a bad mood. We don't change our behaviors or the way we live our life depending on what mood we're in!

Now in ACT, we apply the above way of thinking to thoughts, also. When I keep having thoughts saying "I'm a loser" I don't buy into it. Instead, I see the thought for what it is and say outloud or to myself "This sucks, I"m having that stupid thought again that I'm a loser. It will pass in a few seconds or minutes." So just because I think I'm a loser doesn't mean I am one. It's just my mind whose like a bored drunk guy who keeps repeating bad things. I don't have to become a loser just because my mind keeps repeating the loser story!

And once you get this distance from your own thoughts - like you probably already have with moods, or pains in your leg - it is easier to move on. Hope this way of explaining it helps.
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post #7 of 77 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 01:42 PM
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seems like such an easy concept! Im a very negative thinker, the thoughts make me feel like Im such an outsider looking in, how different I feel, but i have never heard about this, sounds like something I should look more into and start doing it, My SAD Has gotten really bad to a point where I almost have giving up on it ever getting better, I hate these thoughts but If I think that this is only a feeling and not the truth, just maybe, maybe It can get better.
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post #8 of 77 (permalink) Old 03-12-2011, 02:53 PM
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It's me again, still involved in CBT with an ACT / "Buddhistic" emphasis. I'm over seven months in now. I've been seeing my therapist twice weekly (55 minute sessions) for most of this time. This is an update on how it is going.

It is going great! Before the therapy, anxiety had taken over my life to the point where driving to the gas station required days of "planning" and intense feelings of dread and anxiety which caused me to become catatonic, sleep a lot, and sweat. Now, I not only attend to all my appointments and requirements of life (such as going to work, class, driving, grocery shopping, oil changes, etc.), I often "enjoy" doing these things. The anxiety is slowly being defeated. No longer do I worry in advance about what could go wrong or how to carry out simple social tasks. I just do them with little to no worry ahead of time.

I attribute this success to ACT helping me get space from my old thoughts and habits. And equally consequential has been gaining a sense of self... a new sense of who I am, along with good feelings and thoughts involving pride, a sense of worth, strength, and a sense that I contribute to this world. I am also less dependent on the (perceived) signals from others around me to define myself. The sense of my self is increasingly coming from within, with its foundation being me as a practitioner of ACT and meditation.

If driving to going to class begins to worry me, I can easily overcome it by first pointing out that the worry is based on old stories about myself and class. These are just stories. Then, I tell myself that this class does not define who I am. If the class goes well, or somehow goes badly, I still have myself, which will not be destroyed. I can depend on myself. After class, I will go home and meditate. And that simple act gives me enough self-structure to endure things that were impossible before, like going to class.

Lastly, ACT was so successful with me because of my personality type. My ACT therapist told me that this transformation was up to me. ACT and he weren't here to institute new, top-down policies to control me. They were were as tools for me. I am a very independent person who hates authority and the feeling of being controlled. Also, I have a hard time "surrendering" to any person or therapy-type... how dare someone or some therapy claim it knows better than I do regarding my self! Maybe this is because I grew up atheist? My destiny is my own to control, I was taught. Anyway, but ACT allowed me my own way out. I felt like I was in the pilot's seat during ACT. So I embraced it fully and felt no resentment or resistance along the way, even when major changes were happening in my life, feelings, thoughts, and sense of self during the therapy.

I'll try to update again in a couple months. By the way, six months before I began ACT I was put on Celexa, the positive effects of which I was already enjoying long before ACT, and I believe still exist today.
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post #9 of 77 (permalink) Old 04-24-2011, 05:37 AM
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Originally Posted by etruscansunset View Post

Lastly, ACT was so successful with me because of my personality type. My ACT therapist told me that this transformation was up to me. ACT and he weren't here to institute new, top-down policies to control me. They were were as tools for me. I am a very independent person who hates authority and the feeling of being controlled. Also, I have a hard time "surrendering" to any person or therapy-type... how dare someone or some therapy claim it knows better than I do regarding my self! Maybe this is because I grew up atheist? My destiny is my own to control, I was taught. Anyway, but ACT allowed me my own way out. I felt like I was in the pilot's seat during ACT. So I embraced it fully and felt no resentment or resistance along the way, even when major changes were happening in my life, feelings, thoughts, and sense of self during the therapy.
I have been considering getting some CBT therapy but I'm slightly offput by the whole 'reprogramming' approach.

Admittedly I don't understand fully how CBT works, but it sounds to me like the idea is to replace all your negative thoughts with positive ones. I feel like I wont be able to adopt a positive thought unless I evidence that the thought is based on fact. I cannot believe a positive message just because it's positive and good for me to believe in, it has to be grounded in reality. Otherwise it's just a form of brainwashing.

Anyone else have a similar problem with CBT? Or am I misunderstanding how CBT works? ACT sounds like it circumvents this problem, can anyone recommend a good ACT book?
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post #10 of 77 (permalink) Old 05-16-2011, 10:42 AM
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I am using ACT methods on myself in relation to my social anxiety. I remind myself that I'm a person that is separate from his experiences. Once I am 'reminded' of that idea, I feel considerably more relaxed.
@sleepytime for ACT you can read the Happiness Trap by Russ Harris and Get Out Your Mind and Into Your Life by Steven Hayes. I'm using the methods in these books right now and I'm feeling better and behaving better. I'm also using CBT methods in combination with ACT methods but I use more ACT methods.
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post #11 of 77 (permalink) Old 05-16-2011, 11:35 AM
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I am using ACT methods on myself in relation to my social anxiety. I remind myself that I'm a person that is separate from his experiences. Once I am 'reminded' of that idea, I feel considerably more relaxed.
@sleepytime for ACT you can read the Happiness Trap by Russ Harris and Get Out Your Mind and Into Your Life by Steven Hayes. I'm using the methods in these books right now and I'm feeling better and behaving better. I'm also using CBT methods in combination with ACT methods but I use more ACT methods.
Thanks for the recommendations, I will look both those up I've started using the Dr. Richards CBT program, it's pretty good so far but I feel ACT might be even more useful for me.

From what I understand the difference between CBT and ACT is that where CBT attempts to reprogramme your thoughts and beliefs, ACT teaches you to distance yourself from your thoughts and beliefs? I've read a book called 'the power of now' by Eckhart Tolle which seems to based on a similar principle.

Do you practice mindful meditation also? Is that a part of ACT?
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post #12 of 77 (permalink) Old 05-18-2011, 07:35 AM
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Thanks for the recommendations, I will look both those up I've started using the Dr. Richards CBT program, it's pretty good so far but I feel ACT might be even more useful for me.

From what I understand the difference between CBT and ACT is that where CBT attempts to reprogramme your thoughts and beliefs, ACT teaches you to distance yourself from your thoughts and beliefs? I've read a book called 'the power of now' by Eckhart Tolle which seems to based on a similar principle.

Do you practice mindful meditation also? Is that a part of ACT?
I don't practice mindfulness meditation any more but I practice cognitive defusion-it's a way to see thoughts as thoughts. You'll read more about it in the books I recommended. Yes, CBT does train you to change your thoughts and beliefs and ACT does teach you to distance yourself from your thoughts instead of changing them. I've never fully read "The Power of Now." I've browsed it in a bookstore but got disinterested when spiritual concepts came up. I'm scientific minded so I'm not into that.
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post #13 of 77 (permalink) Old 05-19-2011, 04:33 PM
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I don't practice mindfulness meditation any more but I practice cognitive defusion-it's a way to see thoughts as thoughts. You'll read more about it in the books I recommended. Yes, CBT does train you to change your thoughts and beliefs and ACT does teach you to distance yourself from your thoughts instead of changing them. I've never fully read "The Power of Now." I've browsed it in a bookstore but got disinterested when spiritual concepts came up. I'm scientific minded so I'm not into that.
I agree with you on the power of now, I had the same problem with it. It was only when I read about ACT that I started to give part of whats written in PON some credence, namely the idea that you don't have to change your thoughts to overcome your problems.

Like you, I would have liked if it were presented in a more logical and less mystical/spiritual manner, and that's why ACT sounds so appealing to me.
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post #14 of 77 (permalink) Old 05-21-2011, 12:11 AM
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ACT is pretty good stuff. I too was in a study that did mindfulness and ACT together. I thought it was jus a bunch of utter new age crap at first. There is really something to this approach. Thumbs up over just CBT.

Truth though the researchers gave me the scoop that both CBT an ACT showed very similar results. Maybe all that's necesary is a radical self help program backed by strong authority lol
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post #15 of 77 (permalink) Old 05-26-2011, 05:28 AM
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I just started reading The Happiness Trap today after reading this thread, and it is really great; I definitely recommend it. ACT suits me a lot better than CBT, which I've tried in the past, I think because the biggest part of my SA is my inability to get perspective when I have negative thoughts. Learning how to be kind to myself, and that I'm not a huge failure/totally abnormal is really helpful.
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post #16 of 77 (permalink) Old 06-06-2011, 08:21 AM
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This is the best treatment for social anxiety. Once you accept and surrender to what is is when your SA goes away forever. Great post Drew.

"A blind man will not change for that he knows not what he does.* It is when he sees is when the magic begins."
-Mitchell Kraus
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post #17 of 77 (permalink) Old 06-11-2011, 12:32 AM
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ACT and body signs

Dear Members of forum,

i would like to ask some questions concerning a problem that causes some troubles for a long time. My prob: I suffer from Social Phobia, I am in psychologists (behaviour therapy) that does not help me so much. On the contrary ACT gave me some interesting ideas. I think that getting into distance to my thoughts helps me well with this problem.

My second problem is that i suffer from hypersalivation for half a year now(or at least i have a hypersalivation when i think on it) that makes it very difficult now to do some meditation that -through time- became extremely important for me, because i realised to get a distance to my thoughts, to get easier in contact with other persons, sometimes without fear what made me very happy.

But now the fusion to thoughts and fear returned. I want to describe it more clearly: doing some practical work or doing housework etc. i do not think at saliva in my mouth, but when I let flow the thoughts like leaves on a river i can not observe my thoughts without thinking on saliva (I had much success with this method before). The river of thoughts flows in my imagination in my head or a bit in front of it. It is difficult to describe but it is like if observing thoughts is like observing my head and the mouth with saliva is in the head and thus i think on saliva when i observe my thoughts.

I have tried to let flow the thoughts some meters in front of my head. Or even to say, “ah ok there is a sign of the body”, but it is extremely difficult to accept the saliva. I think the more I try to accept it like “ ok, there is some saliva” the stronger it becomes.

I hope you could understand my bad english (i am sorry for this) and that you can help me.

Sincerely yours
Michael
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post #18 of 77 (permalink) Old 06-24-2011, 08:19 AM
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I wish I would have found this ten years ago. It would have saved me so much strife and pain. I've tried every way of dealing with anxiety and depression, but this is by far the best method.

I highly recommend it to anyone who is willing to put in the work.
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post #19 of 77 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 11:51 AM
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Hi , ACT or Acceptance Commitment Therapy has work for me especially my Bipolar II type, and my Social Anxiety (really Panic Disorder). I like book "The Happines Trap" but there is another book that my therapist recommended "Get Out Your Mind & Into Your Life." by Steven C. Hayes with Spencer Smith. It is also a Very good book, practicing ACT has me taught me come back into present moment and live it. A simple but not easy thing to do especially when the diagnosed conditions that I have...
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post #20 of 77 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 12:16 PM
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This stuff sounds great, are there any step-by-step books like "Feeling Good" is for CBT?

I get the sense that "the Happiness Trap" and "Get Out of Your Mind..." are just primers.

"...if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also."
- Marcus Aurelius
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