Today there is much research to support the benefits of mindfulness to a person’s physical and psychological health. Mindfulness refers to meditative ideas and practices that involve observing thoughts and feelings and letting go of the need to change or ruminate about things. Mindfulness-Based Therapies encompass mindfulness philosophies and techniques in their intervention approach. In a world that is becoming increasingly fast-paced and competitive with technology and social media, it’s hard not to feel the intensity of time, the demand to get things done and be the very best, to the point that one is not really paying attention to what is happening on the inside. This directing of awareness to one’s inner world in a way that is non-judgemental – thoughts are neither good nor bad but are just that, thoughts – and leads to greater contentment.
Mindfulness-based strategies and ideas are included in therapies such as Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Mindfulnes-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). At our clinic we use mindfulness strategies within various models of therapy to help with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, etc. Mindfulness techniques include breathing and relaxation exercises along with guided imagery to direct attention to one’s thoughts and feelings in a more mindful way.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based model of psychotherapy that combines important aspects of cognitive behaviour therapy and traditional models of behavioural therapy.
In ACT, client are encouraged to stop avoiding, denying, and struggling with their emotions and learn to accept such feelings as adaptive responses to situations. Such acceptance and giving up the fight against the emotions allows them to move forward in their life. Such acceptance along with evaluation and understanding of one’s values leads to commitment to making necessary changes in their behaviour.
The ACT therapist helps you listen to your inner dialogue, particularly about traumatic events, relationships, physical problems and other issues. You decide if the issue requires immediate action and change or if you need to accept it and make behaviour adjustments. You may examine past behaviours that did not work so that your therapist can help you stop repeating unproductive patterns of behaviour and identify ones that are more productive. Once you face and accept your issues, you can make a commitment to stop fighting your past and emotions and start engaging in constructive behaviours that are consistent with your personal values and goals.
The rationale underlying ACT is that it is counterproductive to try to control painful emotions or psychological experiences as such reactions lead to greater distress. The ACT therapist assists the client in adopting the view that there are valid alternatives to trying to change the way one thinks these include being mindful, attentive of one’s personal values and at the same time accepting one’s psychological experiences.