ACT Therapy in London and Online
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a unique evidence-based therapy that joins the traditional Western approach with eastern thinking, utilising mindfulness and acceptance strategies in addition to the behavioural interventions commonly used in CBT. The focus in ACT is directed on building the psychological flexibility that enables us to become aware and accept rather than avoid the suffering and discomfort, which are an innate part of the human experience. ACT can help us change the relationship we have with our internal sensations, such as painful thoughts, emotions and physical sensations for the better. It does so by equipping us with a variety of tools that allow us to loosen the grip of these internal sensations over our psyche and help us commit to a meaningful life according to our values. In this article, you will learn what ACT therapy is, how can it help you, and what can you expect from the therapeutic process.
If you’re interested in working with our therapists practising ACT, request a free 15 min consultation today.
Discover ACT Therapy
What is ACT Therapy?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a third-wave behavioural therapy rooted in empirical evidence, offering an unconventional alternative to Western psychology.
Its basic premise states that suffering is an innate part of human experience. Therefore, it’s in our best interest to recognise and accept the pain we might feel rather than deny, avoid or fight it. Only by embracing it will we be genuinely free to commit to a meaningful and abundant life lived in line with our values, filled with intention and compassion.
ACT utilises various mindfulness techniques and interventions built upon CBT yet non-uniform and alternative to this traditional approach. It also illustrates different concepts with metaphors and paradoxes, and engages you in experiential exercises that build psychological flexibility. Learning this crucial skill gives you an opportunity to adapt in the face of adversity and overcome obstacles that life will inevitably throw at you. Simultaneously, it emphasises the importance of taking action towards introducing a positive change in life, where you’re free to cultivate your core values. This helps you live a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
What’s the difference between ACT and CBT?
While Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was built on the concepts of CBT, the two differ from one another on a fundamental level.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one of the most common forms of psychotherapy effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, phobias and more. It views the psychological suffering of an individual as an abnormality, a symptom of pathology that needs to be eliminated in order to ensure a healthy, happy and stable life. Therefore, the therapeutic work focuses on identifying, challenging, and re-framing the problematic thought patterns into functional ones. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) takes a different approach when treating individuals. It states that even though emotional and physical pain is normal and common in our lives, what can perpetuate or exacerbate it is how we choose to interpret and interact with it. Rather than mentally wrestle and dispute with the unpleasant thoughts, feelings and physical sensations, ACT therapists help people learn to observe and transform the way in which they view and treat these difficult internal sensations through the use of acceptance and mindfulness-based strategies.
What Can ACT Therapy Help With?
ACT Therapy is a fantastic opportunity to:
- Recognise and accept the painful thoughts, emotions and physical sensations
- Free oneself from the guilt, shame or other forms of judgment towards the self
- Let go of the need to control everything
- Learn how to stay grounded in the present moment
- Cultivate kindness and compassion in relationship with oneself
- Commit to introducing a positive change in one’s life
- Learn the skills necessary to cultivate kindness to simultaneously enjoy a life rich in meaning and embrace the pain embedded in it
Who needs ACT Therapy?
ACT can be highly beneficial to those who feel like they lost control over their lives, struggle with expressing their thoughts and emotions, constantly fight internally, stuck in the vicious cycles of unhelpful thought patterns. This therapy can also help those who are lost in their lives and don’t have a clue what to do. Additionally, ACT is scientifically proven to be effective in treating many different clinical conditions such as:
How long does ACT Therapy take?
ACT Therapy is used to treat individuals, couples and groups. It’s also applied to various clinical issues, both short and long term.
It’s important to note that the therapeutic process is not meant to last a very long time. At its core, ACT focuses on teaching individuals skills that they can later utilise to embrace their hardships and recognise the pain while staying true to their priorities and creating a reality based on their values.
That is why the length of the entire treatment depends on the specific needs of each person. Nevertheless, usually, it takes between 8 to 16 weekly sessions, with each session of ACT lasting about 50 minutes.
How Does ACT Therapy Work?
ACT is a unique form of psychotherapy that is designed to increase psychological flexibility through a mix of different techniques, divided into three broad categories:
The therapeutic work first helps individuals identify and assess the long-term effectiveness of different ways in which they try to avoid, deny or gain control over their unpleasant internal sensations. For example:
- A person struggling with social anxiety can reach for their phone and endlessly scroll through social media to occupy their mind, which might bring momentary release, but can not only perpetuate the issue of anxiety but also cause long-term adverse effects such as FOMO or becoming addicted to social media.
The second stage of the treatment focuses on showing ways to let go of control, open up to the suffering, let the discomfort rise and fall and reduce its impact by practicing mindfulness. The importance of this skill can be illustrated with the “quicksand” metaphor used in ACT:
- The only way to survive in quicksand is not by wiggling around and struggling against it but by lying back and spreading oneself across the surface. Like with painful emotions, rather than fight them or avoid the experience at all costs, we need to go against our urges and surrender to the present moment. Life will present us with metaphorical quicksands, and there’s no escaping them. When facing a painful situation, it is better to observe and accept it rather than waste time and energy pointlessly fighting the force of nature. In order to do that, the ability to stay grounded in the present moment becomes absolutely vital.
Commitment & Values
Lastly, ACT sessions aim to empower individuals to commit to introducing a positive change in their lives. In that stage of the treatment, they’re already exposed to the discomfort, familiar with it, and equipped with crucial skills to address it. The therapeutic work focuses on setting specific goals in line with the individual’s core values and personal priorities and providing assistance in taking action to achieve them.
What to Expect in ACT Therapy?
ACT Therapy differs from traditional forms of psychotherapy, mainly because it doesn’t view suffering in human life as something that has to be erased or changed. It’s natural for us to experience both love and pain, just like it’s natural for both light and darkness to exist. Pain is not something to run away from or force a change upon it.
If you want to get rid of your anxiety or stop having depression, don’t expect to reach these goals with ACT. However, you can expect to gain a theoretical framework, skillset, and experience necessary to embrace and make peace with it. This will help you to reduce your suffering and the impact it has upon your life.
What ACT can also help you with is finding your moral compass, connecting to your values and committing to a life enriched in them. By the end of the treatment, you can expect to understand yourself better, be aware of the painful thoughts, memories or feelings in your life, mindfully approach them and proactively choose the life you want to lead.
Therapeutic Relationship in ACT
All ACT therapists undergo training throughout which they gain important qualities such as empathy, acceptance and the ability to remain present and grounded while experiencing intense emotional states. They also develop an understanding of the universal nature of the human experience. Therefore, both sides in the therapeutic context are viewed as equals. After all, we all struggle with ups and downs and face challenging obstacles.
Russ Harris, an internationally acclaimed ACT therapy trainer, says: “I don’t want you to think I’ve got my life completely in order. It’s more as if you’re climbing your mountain over there, and I’m climbing my mountain over here. It’s not as if I’ve reached the top and I’m having a rest. From where I am on my mountain, I can see obstacles on your mountain that you can’t see. So I can point those out to you and maybe show you some alternative routes around them.”
What Are The Benefits of ACT Therapy?
ACT Therapy can bring many benefits, helping people to:
- Reclaim the time and energy previously wasted on fighting against the pain
- Confront the difficult thoughts and emotions
- Find ways to overcome the obstacles in their lives while cultivating acceptance, compassion and kindness towards the self
- Reconnect with their core values and priorities
- Bring clarity, meaning and a sense of direction in their lives
- Become flexible psychologically and adapt to the meanders of life
Tips for Handling ACT as a Client (or rather, fellow traveller)
1) Stop resisting the pain
ACT therapy is all about embracing the suffering present in our lives. The sooner you’ll stop fighting against it or avoiding it, the sooner you’ll be able to make progress. If you want to see a positive change happen in your life, you need to surrender to the entirety of the therapeutic process, which starts with opening up to the triggering thoughts and emotions.
2) Face your demons
A poet Robert Frost once said: “The only way out is through”. A state of inner peace is achieved by dealing with the chaos first. ACT invites you to look at your suffering in the eye, recognise and embrace it through the practice of self-acceptance. Remember that it is OK not to feel OK, be lost, confused or hurt. Allow yourself to experience those emotions truly.
3) Trust the process
ACT Therapy is a challenge. Get ready to discuss the hardships and memories you wish weren’t yours with your therapist. It won’t always be easy or pleasant. Nevertheless, once you commit to the therapy, try your best to stick to that decision and put good faith into the healing process. Most likely, you will shed the burden of self-judgment and come out on the other end richer in refreshing perspectives, mental clarity regarding your life, a deeper understanding of yourself and skill set enabling you to address any future adversities.
Our Therapists Specialised in ACT Therapy
All of our therapists are qualified psychologists, psychotherapists or counsellors registered with several professional bodies. These include the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the British Psychological Society (BPS), as well as BACP, UKCP and BABCP.
The Therapist l had was absolutely brilliant with me. He had patience with me and bit by bit l gained a little of confidence to try and get out and go on the buses.
He deserves an award and if l could l would in the beginning l thought how is this person going to get me back on public transport but he did he gave me the confidence l lost and now have back.
I will never forget him and what he has done for me. I wish him nothing but the best in his life.
My therapist was excellent. I highly recommend her and I am truly thankful for my sessions, I left feeling confident and positive.
The mental tools, systems and approaches I have been able to develop with her and use in my life have been hugely beneficial.
Thank you to all at Therapy Central.
The Therapist really gave me the space to talk and express my feelings and fears in a very comforting environment.
She was there not only to listen, but challenge my thinking, guide me during the uncertainty I was experiencing and give me useful and practical tips to improve my mental health and wellbeing. Highly recommended!
Working with the therapist has been a life-changing experience. Each session has been invaluable, helping me gain a good understanding of CBT methodology enabling me to incorporate ways to combat stress and anxiety in my daily life.
The Therapist shows that she really cares and has the ability to make you feel calm whilst discussing any personal issue.
Fees & Insurances
Therapy, Counselling and CBT sessions are 50 minutes long and are usually held at regular weekly time slots.
15 Minute initial
£105 - £120
Your Private Healthcare Insurance Provider
ACT Therapy in London & Online
If you are interested in starting expert ACT Therapy in London with Therapy Central, give us a shout, and we will connect you to a professional ACT therapist.
Contact us for a free 15 min consultation with a ACT therapist to see if our help would fit your needs. You can also get in touch via email at email@example.com or call us at (+44) 020 348 82797.
What happens after I make an enquiry?
After receiving your enquiry we’ll contact you to organise a FREE phone consultation. You will be able to tell us more about your specific circumstances and needs and ask any questions you have. Then, if you want to proceed with therapy or counselling, we’ll match you with the therapist(s) with the best expertise to help you with your challenges and send you a list of their available appointment slots. If you’re satisfied with one of these, we can then go ahead and book your first appointment. You can also request to work with a specific practitioner and, depending on availability we’ll try accomodate this.
What happens at my first appointment with the therapist?
Your first session will likely be different than future appointments. You and your therapist will get to know each other and will begin to build a working alliance. It will be a chance to have the confidential space to express your circumstances, feelings and thoughts and being listened to with depth, attention, empathy and without judgement . Your therapist will likely ask you more about your reasons for seeking therapy, and any symptoms you’re experiencing. You may also be asked questions about your past and the history of your issues, as well as how they currently impact your life in the present. Finally, your first session may be a powerful place to discuss what you would like to achieve with therapy and agree on the length, methods and approaches of treatment.
Is online therapy effective?
If you choose online over in-person therapy rest assured that this has been proven to be just as effective as regular face to face therapy, and in some cases even more effective. In addition, choosing online therapy brings additional benefits, for example avoiding longer waiting times, greater flexibility with appointments and you won’t need to travel to our practice. You can enjoy online therapy from the comfort of your home.
How long the Therapy/counselling sessions last?
Therapy/counselling sessions last 50 minutes and are held at regular weekly time slots. On occasions we are able to allow some flexibility. This can be discussed with your therapist.
Do you offer reduced rates/concessions?
We offer low-cost rates at £60 per session to people with a low income, unemployed or students. Please highlight in your enquiry if you would like a concession rate and how you qualify for this. Depending on the availability of our therapists, we’ll do our best to accommodate your request.
Do you have a cancellation policy?
We have a 48 hours no-fee cancellation policy. However you will be charged for sessions missed without giving the full notice.
Our Practice in Central London
Our comfortable and confidential therapy rooms are conveniently located 3 min walk from Oxford Circus station, in Central London (see map below). Change starts with Talking!
 Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in treating depression and suicidal ideation in Veterans
 A Randomized Controlled Effectiveness Trial of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Therapy for Anxiety and Depression
 A randomised trial of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anorexia Nervosa after daycare treatment, including five-year follow-up
 The Potential Utility of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Reducing Stress and Improving Wellbeing in Cancer Patients in Kolkata