Anna has a very strong interest in ACT- Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, and has had further training & practice in it.
ACT is a form of clinical behaviour analysis developed from & improved on CBT used in psychotherapy. It is an empirically-based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies mixed in different ways with commitment and behaviour-change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility.
ACT takes the view that most psychological suffering is caused by ‘experiential avoidance’, i.e. by attempting to avoid or get rid of unwanted private experiences (such as unpleasant thoughts, feelings, sensations, urges & memories). Clients’ efforts at experiential avoidance might work in the short term, but in the long term they often fail, and in the process, they often create significant psychological suffering. (For example, think of any serious addiction: in the short term it makes you feel good and helps you get rid of unpleasant thoughts and feelings – but in the long term, it destroys your health and vitality).
In ACT, clients develop mindfulness skills, (both traditional techniques, and many modern, innovative ones) which enable them to fundamentally change their relationship with painful thoughts and feelings. When clients practice these skills in everyday life, painful feelings and unhelpful thoughts have much less impact and influence over them. Therefore, instead of wasting their time and energy in a fruitless battle with their inner experiences, they can invest their energy in taking action to change their life for the better – guided by their deepest values.
ACT commonly employs six core principles to help clients develop psychological flexibility:
- Cognitive defusion: Learning methods to reduce the tendency to fuse with negative thoughts, images, emotions, and memories.
- Acceptance: Allowing thoughts to come and go without struggling with them.
- Contact with the present moment: Awareness of the here and now, experienced with openness, interest, and receptiveness- Mindfulness.
- Observing the self: Accessing a sense of self as a non-judgmental observer which is unchanging.
- Values: Discovering what is most important to one’s true self.
- Committed action: Setting goals according to values and carrying them out responsibly.