Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

An excellent treatment for Anxiety and Depression, and any malady that involves erroneous thinking, is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT.

This is a type of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and along with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) represents a new generation of therapy that utilizes a change in thinking. Many clients have cognitive distortions, or thinking errors, and I’ve found this type of therapy to effectively deal with a client’s feeling of “overwhelm” and anxiety. Psychologists tell us there may be 50,000 (or more!) thoughts per day that go through the human mind (how can they count those?), and if a person tries to evaluate each of them, they are soon overwhelmed.

So I have taught ACT using several books. An excellent primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is by Russ Harris, The Illustrated Happiness Trap, which is an easy read, and is replete with illustrations that make the concepts come alive. A disclaimer I often give for this book is that Russ Harris makes no claims to being a Christian, and there are some falsehoods in belief through this book. If that concerns you, don’t get that book! But he also has a fine YouTube video on “The Struggle Switch,” so if you want to hear an Australian narrate his purposes in using ACT, seek that one out.

A believer, Scott Symington, came up with an excellent ACT technique called “The Two-Screen Method,” which you won’t find in Russ Harris’s book. You can learn this technique from a little YouTube video also, and Symington goes into much more detail as he wrote a whole book on this technique, called Freedom From Anxious Thoughts & Feelings: A Two-Step Mindfulness Approach for Moving Beyond Fear & Worry. Symington indicates ACT can be used for Anxiety and Depression, as well as for Addiction.

I think it’s a neat approach, as I often believe there are two main Spirits that prompt us to think of certain things, God and Satan. It’s a trick sometimes to know who is talking to us, as the Bible teaches us that “many false prophets are gone into the world,” and not everything we think of comes from God. So we need to learn how to defuse thoughts, or break our weld to them. Part of this has to do with how much scripture we know, because the Word and Spirit will never disagree. We want to focus on thoughts prompted by God (the “front screen”) rather than those prompted by Satan (the “side screen.”)

The YouTube videos can be seen at:

If you don’t want to have to sort out good from bad, in your faith, get the above book by Symington or else the one called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Christian Clients: A Faith-Based Workbook by Joshua Knabb. There are a lot of ACT books on the market, and I am including one page from one of those books, ACT Made Simple, by Russ Harris. A big concept in ACT is defusion (“breaking the weld with a thought”), and there are lots of ways to do this.

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