Values and Committed Actions in ACT

By DJ Moran, PhD

This presentation is an excerpt from the online course “Demystifying ACT: A Practical Guide for Therapists“.

Highlights

  • Clarifying values helps the client move forward on important committed actions in their life.
  • Commitment is defined as action in the direction of what you care about even in the presence of obstacles.
  • In this definition, action is supported when the obstacles that impede commitment are helped by acceptance, contacting the present moment, self-as-contact work and defusion.

 

Transcript

The ACT Hexagon Model is traditionally used to introduce practitioners to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. There are six essential components to the ACT approach and they’re integrated together to help build psychological flexibility. We have reviewed five of the six components so let’s turn to committed action now.

In the last video where we discussed the lifetime achievement award as a way to work with clients for them to clarify their values, we ended by saying clarifying your values can help you move forward on important committed actions in your life. That is an essential understanding for ACT therapists. Clarifying your own personal values is necessary but it is critical to have those values lead to behavioral change.

In ACT, committed action is behaving in the service of chosen values. Because ACT comes from the behavior therapy tradition, ACT therapists with the collaboration of their client are going to encourage behavioral change to make the individual have opportunities to respond differently in their world perhaps to persist at chosen actions related to what’s vital and meaningful in your life or to alter how you typically respond in clinically relevant situations.

And the commitment is defined as action in the direction of what you care about even in the presence of obstacles. Let’s unpack that definition.

A commitment is action. The word commitment is a noun but it’s the kind of noun that requires action. We want to see some kind of behavior happen if you are committed to something. When you’re committed to some kind of task, process or direction, you keep moving in that direction with your actions. And even if there is an obstacle coming up, you keep moving with your actions through that problem, over that problem, around or under that problem. Action is necessary to show that you are making a commitment.

We also say that a commitment is in the direction of what you care about. Right there, we’re talking about values, what’s meaningful and purposeful in your life. You start to clarify or author for yourself these are the things that I care about and that is what motivates me to engage in these actions.

And finally, the definition says a commitment happens even in the presence of obstacles. You continue acting in the direction of what you care about even if there’s some kind of problem, issue or some kind of obstacle that gets in the way. These obstacles can be emotions or distracting cognitions or self-denigrating thoughts or mindlessness. And hopefully, you can see that these obstacles are addressed by the different components of the ACT hexagon most notably acceptance, defusion, self-as-context and contacting the present moment. A commitment means you make a behavior change according to your values and accept, defuse, stay aware of your core self and contact the present moment in order to support such behavioral change.

There are 3 key components in this video.
One, clarifying values helps the client move forward on important committed actions in their life.
Two, commitment is defined as action in the direction of what you care about even in the presence of obstacles.
And three, in this definition, action is supported when the obstacles that impede commitment are helped by acceptance, contacting the present moment, self-as-contact work and defusion.

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