ACT is one of the mindfulness-based psychological approaches which has been developed in recent decades (specifically in 1982 by Stephen Hayes). The goal is to help people accept – instead of fighting with or avoiding – what unfolds in their life, and independently of possible fears or obstacles, to work towards what is of greatest value for them.
It involves six stages or core principles, which consists in learning the following:
- Be an observer of one’s thoughts, feelings and inner images without identifying with them.
- Accept the flow of this inner stream without struggling with it. Learn to identify triggers for unwanted feelings and behaviours.
- Adopt for this process a mindful attitude of openness, curiosity and receptiveness
- Realise the deepest sense of self which is the constant context for one’s actions and mental/emotional activity. Events and thoughts are impermanent, they come and go, but this is abiding. Called ‘a transcendent sense of self’ it is the core of one’s being, and remains through all changing experiences of life
- Discover what is of greatest value for oneself at the present stage of life, eg. be a good parent, finish a degree, find a partner, write a book, learn a skill, or develop compassion for self and others.
- Commit to action in order to realize this value, independently of possible obstacles and feelings such as fear, self-doubt or other discouraging dispositions. As the title of a popular book states, ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’.