Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

People looking to stop struggling with their emotions have found success at The Mental Health Center of San Diego by participating in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

People looking to stop struggling with their emotions have found success at The Mental Health Center of San Diego by participating in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The key is to help our clients accept the challenges that often confront them and, instead of denying negative thoughts and emotions, take steps to change their behavior despite the problems they face in their lives.

The basis of ACT started as an unwavering commitment to overcome problems by accepting the challenges that come along with them.


What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Acceptance and commitment therapy educates patients how to implement mindfulness techniques to behave in a manner that coincides with their personal values. The underlying premise of acceptance and commitment therapy exercises is to develop the skills required to maintain flexibility in following psychological principles that match unique emotional challenges.

Clients that follow the principles established by ACT learn how to recognize why controlling and suppressing emotional experiences creates difficult challenges to overcome. When you recognize an attempt to control and suppress an emotion, you have a much better chance of implementing one or more value-focused actions that foster the development of a healthy mental state.

ACT does not target unwanted emotions. Instead, it implements techniques that help clients to stop looking at themselves as flawed individuals. The goal is to help patients accept negative emotional experiences by being proactive to reduce their impact on our lives. Developing a more positive outlook on life can help a client become more compassionate when interacting with other people.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

What to Expect with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

By working with our ACT therapist, you can expect to learn how to pay attention to the way you process negative thoughts and emotions that develop because of issues such as coping with a traumatic event or dealing with a contentious relationship. After you learn how to listen to your negative emotions, you take steps to change how you think by not relying on your past strategies when trying to overcome difficult emotional challenges.

Your ACT therapist is instrumental in educating you about how the five core principles that form the foundation of acceptance and commitment therapy can improve your mental health.


Accept every one of your thoughts, instead of denying they exist. Your ACT therapist teaches you to stop trying to change negative thoughts and emotions by accepting them as part of your thought process.

In the Moment

Applying basic mindfulness techniques keeps you in the moment instead of dwelling on past challenges that diminished the quality of your life. One of the most important techniques taught by your ACT therapist involves controlling your breathing pattern.

Cognitive Defusion

Cognitive defusion represents a psychologically-driven exercise that changes the way you react to negative thoughts and emotions. By distancing yourself from stressful thoughts and emotions, you alleviate the harmful consequences that are associated with dwelling on negative thoughts and emotions.


The values component of ACT requires you to recognize your values and take steps to live your life according to those principles. One of the obstacles for an ACT client to overcome involves not following the personal values that can help the client avoid distressing interactions with other people.


The bookend core principle of ACT is called commitment. This core principle asks you to make changes in your life that match your values, which can lead to several positive changes in the way you view challenges. You might establish goals and/or develop skills that mitigate the impact of negative thoughts and emotions.

Professionals Are Standing By

The Benefits of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy delivers several benefits for clients. Undergoing just a few ACT sessions can improve the quality of your life by helping you accept a mental condition as a part of your life. Acceptance and commitment therapy helps you see that you are much more than defined by a medical health issue. You also learn how to become more flexible mentally by following each of the five core principles of ACT. Acceptance and commitment therapy not only helps you adapt to challenges that you face in the present, but it also teaches you how to use certain tools to address future challenges.

By accepting that negative experiences represent a common part of your life, you can move forward by acknowledging the negative experiences and then taking steps to address them. It is not the negative thoughts and emotions that impact your life, but allowing them to dominate your thought process is what diminishes the quality of your life. ACT works when a client accepts the presence of negative thoughts.