As the field of teen psychology continues to develop and refine itself over time, a number of empirically provable patterns have emerged. One such pattern that has been accepted by the vast majority of psychologists is that the suppression of difficult thoughts and feelings is a strategy that is much less effective than acceptance. For teens who are suffering from a variety of different conditions, it is much effective for them to accept their reality—as difficult as that may be at times—then to distort or deny its very existence.
What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (commonly known as ACT) is a therapeutic technique that seeks to promote acceptance and mindfulness instead of suppression and denial. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy was primarily developed in the 1980s by Steven C. Hayes and other psychologists who sought to improve the way their clients coped with difficult realities.
ACT focuses on teaching individuals to address the problems in their lives in an effective and productive way, and learn to focus their energies on the things that matter most. Multiple clinical studies have proven that ACT is objectively more effective than the placebo and also more effective than more suppressive treatment alternatives. Additionally, ACT is a therapeutic treatment model that can be employed alongside other treatment types (such as experiential treatment and 12-step programs) in order to attain the best results possible.
What is acceptance and commitment therapy used to treat?
Because ACT is a rather broad treatment model—focusing on mindfulness which can benefit a wide variety of people—it can be used to treat a number of different conditions. ACT can be used in the treatment of PTSD, substance abuse, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and numerous other psychological conditions that are particularly common among teens. When seeking treatment, it is important to work with a licensed professional who knows how to effectively employ ACT when appropriate, and how to incorporate its use alongside other treatment modalities.
The purpose of ACT is to try to encourage positive behaviors while simultaneously teaching individuals to cope with and overcome any unpleasant thoughts they may be having. ACT is also used as a corresponding acronym that claims individuals need to
– Accept your reactions and be present
– Choose a valued direction, and
– Take action
This is consider a much healthier alternative to the more impulsive route of fear and avoidance of difficult situations.
Why is acceptance and commitment therapy so important?
Because Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is such a dynamic, multi-functional treatment model, it has proven itself to be incredibly useful in the treatment of struggling teenagers. You may have tried other treatment types that have been proven to be ineffective, and you may be looking to enhance the effectiveness of a treatment model that is already in motion.
ACT has been praised and employed by a number of teen psychologists across the world because they believe it can be uniquely effective in helping individuals ground themselves, directly engage in the world around them, and learn to confidently embrace reality while keeping their core values in mind. ACT is important because it helps individuals create healthy, productive coping mechanisms that will last far beyond the clinical treatment they might be receiving.
Furthermore, one reason that ACT has become increasingly utilized since its original conception is that not only do clinical studies support its use, but clients also report very positive personal outcomes. The world of psychology is rapidly changing; getting treatment shouldn’t be something rooted in suppression or avoidance, but something that can enable the individual to leave the clinic feeling healed and prepared to embrace the world beyond them.
The positive light you have been looking for
ACT was developed during what is now referred to as the “third wave” of cognitive behavioral therapy. While the first wave focused mostly on cognitive conditioning and the second wave focused mostly on mental abnormalities, the third wave sought to correct the errors of the first two and expose the world of clinical psychology to a more positive light.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a treatment model that is able to simultaneously utilize the many discoveries made in the past century of psychology while also focusing on the nature of the human being in a positive way. It is a treatment type that promotes positive thinking, self-confidence, deep reflection, and lasting values, and it is something that parents of struggling teenagers ought to take the time to research and consider.
If your teenager is suffering from any of the common psychological conditions mentioned above, take the time to consult with a professional clinician who can guide you to the most effective treatment options. If you are looking for something that can improve cognitive functions and utilize the power of positive thinking, then Acceptance and Commitment Therapy may be a good option.