Our center specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a type of intervention based on the idea that if we change unhealthy patterns of thinking (“maladaptive cognitions”) we can reduce emotional distress and choose healthier responses to life’s stresses.
Like CBT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT, said as one word and not as initials) is another form of behavioral therapy proven to be effective for a wide range of concerns including anxiety, depression, chronic pain, stress, OCD, and eating disorders.
ACT is based on embracing radical acceptance of how our life unfolds. Pain, illness, sadness, and worry are part of the human experience. Denying this truth is counterproductive. Instead, ACT encourages people to accept the fullness of life experiences and adapt to them with psychological flexibility. Or in other words, we don’t have to suppress or try to eliminate negative thoughts or feelings. We can accept that these things happen while still focusing on cultivating a life of joy, gratitude, and meaning.
When engaging in ACT-based therapy, you and your provider will explore several key interventional domains:
Acceptance (e.g., accepting our experiences without avoiding them),
Cognitive defusion (e.g., facing our emotions without dwelling in them),
Mindfulness (e.g., being fully present in this moment without judgement),
Values (e.g., identifying our values and living in accordance with them), and
Committed action (e.g., engaging in positive behavior change).
The founder of ACT, Steven Hayes, described it this way: “We have a saying: ‘In your pain you find your values and in your values you find your pain.’ When you connect with things that you deeply care about that lift you up, you’ve just connected yourself into places where you can and have been hurt. If love is important to you, what are you going to do with your history of betrayals? If the joy of connecting to others is important to you, what are you going to do with the pain of being misunderstood or failing to understand others? The acceptance and mindfulness work… gives us the openness and grounding and consciousness to be able to move our attention in a non-suppressive way towards what we care about.”
For a great video by the founder of ACT, please click here (https://youtu.be/o79_gmO5ppg) to learn more about ACT and psychological flexibility.
Old Town, Alexandria Office 220 South Washington Street, Suite 102 Alexandria, VA 22314 Phone: 202-768-6494