CBT to ACT

Brain Sketch
Image by Robina Weermeijer
Image by Glen Carrie

What CBT is

To break down Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy:

Cognitive = How and what we think and how we can rebalance, reframe, or relate to them

Behavioral = What we do and how we can approach or do things differently

And our Emotions/Feelings connected with them

For example, when we're feeling stressed or overwhelmed:

Cognitive - I can't handle this.  This is too much.  I'm overloaded and overwhelmed.

Behaviors - Shut down.  Avoid.  Vegetate.  Get short with people.  Not eat, or eat too much.  Not get enough sleep, or sleep too much.  Withdraw.

In recent years I had been emphasizing the B over the C in CBT, and I’m now moving away from CBT and towards Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT (said like the word “act” instead of spelling out each letter). 

 

With CBT, we’re working with our thoughts by challenging, fighting, disputing, persuading.  What’s tough: these unhelpful or maladaptive thoughts keep coming or popping up.  So we could be doing a lot of mental gymnastics and work to try to think more adaptively or to keep on thinking more adaptively.

I like ACT because it’s a different way of working with painful or unpleasant thoughts, feelings, memories, etc.  Instead of trying to get rid of them, it’s acknowledging them and getting unhooked from them, so we can respond more effectively.

 

In ACT, we work on being here now, watching our thinking, opening up to our experiences, noticing our observing selves, knowing what matters to us, and doing what it takes.