How does ACT differ from traditional CBT interventions?

This question is answered in detail by Steven Hayes, here.

Here is our very basic answer:

Generally, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy works to challenge distressing thoughts by looking for evidence and coming up with a more rational response. However, in ACT, the thought is accepted as a thought, e.g. “I’m having the thought that this plane is going to crash”, and then defused using a variety of techniques, including mindfulness.

Or, as Hayes writes:

If you want to pick one of the most salient differences, pick defusion (also known as deliteralization). In ACT, a troublesome thought might be watched dispassionately, repeated out loud until only its sound remains, or treated as an external observation by giving it a shape, size, color, speed, or form. A person could thank their mind for such an interesting thought, say it very slowly, or label the process of thinking (“I am having the thought that I am no good”). They might note how the back and forth of a mental argument is like a volley ball game and then literally play that out while watching from the sidelines. There are perhaps 100 defusion techniques that have been written about somewhere in the ACT literature. Not a one of them involves evaluating or disputing these thoughts.


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