ACT is a mindfulness-based therapy developed to help people manage psychological, emotional and physical issues that divert them from living their life in a way they would consider satisfying and rewarding.
ACT's main function is not to relieve symptoms but to address the symptoms by helping the client adapt their understanding, their relationship and their behavioural response to them. By teaching specific mindfulness skills clients are helped to manage challenging thoughts, emotions and physical sensations in a way that enables and empowers them to make the important life changes they would like despite the symptoms that previously seemed to stop them doing so.
ACT is intriguing in that it makes no claim or attempt to cure, yet the client often finds that the counter intuitive request that ACT fundamentally asks of them i.e. stop trying to change or avoid the symptoms is the very approach that relieves or even sometimes halts the symptoms.
ACT is an elegant approach and does not offer psychological tools or exercises to fix the client; in fact the viewpoint is that the client is whole rather than broken regardless of presenting problems.
The aim of the therapy is to cultivate psychological development whereby the client, by focussing on life beyond the symptoms, identifies personal goals based upon their own fundamental values and sense of meaning. At the same time the client seeks to understand their thoughts, feelings, emotions and physical sensations as private experiences that can be managed whilst at the same time living a personally meaningful and vital life, rather than waiting to eliminate or reduce certain private experiences as a prerequisite to living the life they want.