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What to Expect in ACT Therapy

a person smiles as they discuss act therapy expectations with a therapist

Countless people grapple with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges, so finding effective therapeutic strategies is imperative. One promising therapy is acceptance and commitment therapy(ACT). Setting reasonable ACT therapy expectations when you first start therapy can help you make progress and understand your path forward.

At Rockland Recovery Behavioral Health, we strive to provide comprehensive and personalized care to individuals seeking relief from their psychological challenges. Our Massachusetts acceptance and commitment therapy program is designed to be flexible for your busy schedule. Call us at 855.520.0531 to learn more and get started today.

Understanding Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

ACT is a talk therapy method that employs mindfulness and acceptance strategies mixed in different ways with commitment and behavior-change strategies. The aim is to increase psychological flexibility—the ability to connect with the present moment more consciously and to make sustainable changes that improve mental well-being.

Acceptance and commitment therapy aims to help individuals accept the reality of their circumstances (even when they’re painful) and commit to making necessary changes in their behavior. The goal is not to feel better but to live better, in alignment with their personal values.

What Can ACT Therapy Help Manage?

ACT is a versatile approach that can help with a wide range of mental health issues. It has shown efficacy in treating conditions like:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Substance use disorders
  • Chronic pain

The therapy may help manage stress, improve workplace performance, and aid in weight loss management. Fundamentally, ACT helps people deal with emotional pain more effectively and helps them move toward a life that reflects their values and goals. It’s not just about alleviating symptoms; it’s about enabling a full, rewarding life.

Understanding Your ACT Therapy Expectations

ACT recognizes that the human mind naturally produces thoughts and emotions, some of which may be distressing or self-limiting. Rather than trying to change or eliminate these experiences, ACT encourages individuals to accept and embrace them as a normal part of being human.

One of the ACT therapy expectations is that your therapist guides you through exercises that will help you recognize and reframe unhelpful thought patterns. You’ll learn how to embrace your feelings instead of resisting them, thereby reducing their control over you.

What to Expect in ACT Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy methods vary significantly in terms of duration and frequency, depending on the individual and their specific needs. Some may benefit from a few weeks of therapy, while others may require months. This would typically involve sessions with the therapist, lasting around an hour each. Your therapist will discuss this with you and plan a suitable timeline. Here is what to expect in ACT:

  • Introduction and assessment – At the beginning of therapy, your therapist will likely assess your psychological health and your specific challenges or concerns. You’ll be encouraged to speak openly about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This initial assessment allows the therapist to understand your needs and tailor the plan accordingly.
  • Building psychological flexibility – This term refers to the ability to contact the present moment fully as a conscious human being and change unwanted behaviors. In simpler terms, it’s about being present, open, and adaptable in any given situation. ACT encourages you to embrace your thoughts and feelings rather than fighting or feeling guilty for them. It might be challenging at first, but with practice, it can lead to significant improvements in mental well-being.
  • Acceptance – ACT is based on the idea of acceptance, especially accepting uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings and thoughts. This therapy helps you develop a different relationship with your thoughts and feelings, where you don’t need to eliminate discomfort but learn to live with it. This can be quite different from other forms of therapy you might have encountered, so it’s important to be open to this new perspective.
  • Mindfulness – The practice of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment is a fundamental element in ACT. Through mindfulness exercises, you’ll learn to focus on the present and engage fully with it without judgment.
  • Value clarification – An essential part of ACT involves identifying your core values and what truly matters to you in life. These could be aspects such as family, career, relationships, or personal growth. Once you identify these values, ACT can help you align your actions with these values.
  • Committed action – The final stage of ACT involves committed action, wherein you’ll make a commitment to make changes in your behavior aligned with your values, and your therapist will help you create a plan to achieve it. It’s about taking constructive action to improve your life according to what you genuinely care about.

After engaging in acceptance and commitment therapy, you can expect to gain a better understanding of your thoughts and feelings, accept them without judgment, and focus on actions that align with your core values. The therapy aims to improve your overall mental health, help you manage stress, anxiety, or depression better, and lead a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

Rockland Recovery Behavioral Health Offers ACT Therapy in Massachusetts

Choosing to engage in therapy can be a transformative decision in one’s life. It is an investment in your mental health and overall well-being. If you’re ready to make this life-changing commitment, contact Rockland Recovery Behavioral Health. Our welcoming and supportive team is ready to guide you on your path to psychological flexibility, acceptance, and personal growth.

Call us at 855.520.0531 to learn more about our ACT Therapy in Massachusetts.