Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) rests on an underlying theory of human language and cognition called relational frame theory (RFT). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy was developed by Hayes and is grounded in behaviourism although being underpinned by analysis of cognitive processes.
ACT emphasizes openness and acceptance of psychological events, including those that are traditionally perceived to be negative or irrational within a standard CBT model, which is something it has in common with Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (DBT). ACT thus shifts from the emphasis of CBT in altering emotions through challenging and rationally responding to rational beliefs, and rather has the central goal of encouraging individuals to respond to situations constructively while simultaneously negotiating and accepting challenging cognitive events and corresponding feelings.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy takes a different slant to standard psychological theory of symptom reduction. ACT assumes rather that quality of life is primarily dependent upon mindful, values-guided action, which is possible regardless of how many symptoms one has, provided someone responds to these “symptoms” in a mindful,
Unlike traditional cognitive behavioural therapy that reinforces the dynamic interplay between cognition, behaviour, emotion and physiology/neurochemistry and focuses on replacing maladaptive thought processes with healthier cognitions, ACT teaches individuals to rather notice, accept and embrace private experiences.
Acceptance and Commitment therapy assumes a focus on the behavioural responses that produce more desirable outcomes (more functional / constructive behaviours). People are encouraged to exercise increased psychological flexibility, drawing on personal values that lead to meaningful action. The acronym FEAR is sometimes utilised in ACT to highlight key variables associated with psychological disequilibrium: Fusion of thoughts; Evaluation of experience; Avoidance of experience; and Reason-giving for behaviour.
ACT utilizes a number of Mindfulness skills including acceptance of thoughts and emotions, cognitive defusion (developing accurate awareness of thoughts and emotions), awareness (openness and receptiveness) to the moment, and observation of self.