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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a talk therapy for treating symptoms of depression. ACT for Depression (ACT-D) helps individuals with depression make changes so that they can have full, rich, and meaningful lives. The focus in ACT-D is to help you live more closely to your values. It also helps you to be more accepting of yourself. ACT-D helps individuals to have better relationships with themselves, others, and the world. Individuals learn to identify and engage in activities that are in line with what they care about. By participating in ACT-D, the individual learns to:

A = Accept     C = Choose     T = Take Action

Research has shown ACT-D to be effective for the treatment of depression. Program evaluation data show that Veterans who have completed treatment had a significant decrease in depression, improved awareness, and a better quality of life. ACT-D usually requires 10 to 16 individual sessions, but may take more or less time depending on the goals you set for treatment.

By participating in ACT-D, you will learn to:

  • Be more present to the "here-and-now." This focus helps to decrease being caught up in what happened in the past. It also frees individuals from worrying too much about the future. Being present helps you to more fully connect to and enjoy the moment.
  • Observe thoughts and feelings in such a way that they no longer keep you stuck in life. Learning to observe through openness and acceptance can help you find freedom from negative thoughts and feelings.
  • Clarify your values and then take action. Finding what is most meaningful to you and choosing to act on these values are important parts of the therapy. This will be part of the process of building a rich and full life.

*This treatment may not be available at every VHA point of care. Please check with your VA provider.

Links and Resources

  • DuFrene, T., & Wilson, K. (2010). Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong: A Guide to Life Liberated from Anxiety. New Harbinger Publications.
  • Forsyth, J.P. & Eifert, G.H. (2007). The mindfulness and acceptance workbook for anxiety. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger
  • Harris, R. (2008). The happiness trap. Shambhala Publications.
  • Harris, R. (2012). The Reality Slap: Finding Peace and Fulfillment When Life Hurts. New Harbinger Publications.
  • Hayes, S., & Smith, S. (2005). Get out of your mind and into your life: The new acceptance and commitment therapy. New Harbinger Publications.
  • LeJeune, C. (2007). The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. New Harbinger Publications Incorporated.
  • Robinson, P., & Strosahl, K. (2008). The mindfulness and acceptance workbook for depression: using acceptance and commitment therapy to move through depression and create a life worth living. New Harbinger Publications.

Return to VA Mental Health Services Information page on Depression

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