Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is one of the most recently developed approaches under the CBT umbrella. Stephen Hayes, who developed ACT in the 1980s, was trained in traditional CBT. On the surface, ACT would appear to agree with the basic premise of the “it is what it is” statement from this week’s introduction. This approach is not only about acceptance, however, but also commitment, which in this context refers to the commitment to change behavior.
ACT focuses on values and psychological flexibility. It uses mindfulness to bring clients into the present moment in order to nonjudgmentally examine thoughts and emotions. Rather than looking at what happened in the past or might happen in the future, ACT focuses on the present. After this acceptance, an ACT therapist would attempt to move clients in the direction of their values through a series of questions, such as: “What are the things that you really value? What would you like to see written on your tombstone?” By examining what clients would like to be different in their lives, they can begin to change behaviors that do not fit into their value system or worldview.
Steven Hayes believes that social change can come from a person who is acting from his or her value system, and that in this way, ACT is related to social change. For this Discussion, you examine the basic tenets and strategies of ACT and take a position on Hayes’s social change argument. Can a therapeutic approach based on acceptance of thoughts—rather than changing them—be a catalyst for behaviors and actions that lead to social change?
- Review the Big Think Interview with Steven Hayes media program found in this week’s Learning Resources.
- Consider the basic approaches within ACT and reflect on Hayes’ premise that his approach is related to social change.
With these thoughts in mind:
Write a 1-2 page critique of Hayes’s contention that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can be related to positive social change. Do you agree or disagree with his opinion, and why? What tenets of ACT support your position? Be specific and provide examples to support your argument.