What is ACT and How Can it Help My Child?
What is ACT?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT, is a behavioral model that promotes values-guided action and mindfulness. The model also promotes psychological flexibility, which can help with challenging behaviors, such as verbal and physical aggression. ACT encourages learners to allow those feelings to exist, instead of suppressing them, and then provides the tools for defusing from those painful thoughts, all of which can lead to more resilience and psychological flexibility.
ACT also helps learners be more aware of what is most important to them (their values) and work through steps to create committed actions. The learner looks at their actions and determines if those actions are moving them closer to fulfillment. This method of thinking is called the Choice Point. The Choice Point helps connect the reason for a behavior to the behavior itself and the resulting consequence.
ACT is composed of six core therapeutic processes: attention to the present moment, acceptance, defusion, self-as-context, committed action, and values and is typically represented by a “hexaflex”.
How does this help my child?
When paired with techniques like Functional Communication Training, ACT can reduce challenging behaviors. SOAR uses the model as part of its functional comprehensive behavioral plans, because of its effectiveness in getting to the root cause of challenging behaviors. ACT also providers learners with tools that he or she can use throughout life.
ACT is not just for children with autism or other developmental disabilities. The model has also proven effective for substance abuse, anxiety and depression!
Harris, Russ. ACT Made Simple : An Easy-To-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, New Harbinger Publications, 2019.