Six Core Processes of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

man sitting on log

Core processes of ACT

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that is designed to help increase psychological flexibility (Hayes, 2004).

In counseling circles, we often hear about ACT but few people know about its core components.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through the six core processes of ACT in a straight forward, easy to understand way. Moreover, I’ll help draw a line between the use of ACT and wellness.

Let’s jump right in!

Six Core Processes of ACT

At its core, ACT is concerned with six core processes that are associated with psychological flexibility. That’s a $10.00 term used to describe expansive thinking.

FYI: What’s important to keep in mind is all six work in tandem as opposed to inviduals blocks.

Check this out:

1. Values

A key component of ACT is values. This means recognizing what matters most to you what you truly want your life to be about.

Examples include friendships, family, work relationships, spirituality and so forth.

2. Committed Action

In this context, committed action means doing the things that bring value to your life.

Examples include writing, reading, giving presentations, forming bonds with loved ones, nurturing others, care-taking and creating.

3. Acceptance

A huge aspect of ACT is acceptance. In short, this means embracing all your experiences, including unwanted ones or things you view as “negative”.

Example: Accepting that as part of your personality, you can be generous and kind but also quick to judge or lash out.

4. Defusion

This aspect of ACT requires that you stand back from yourself in an objective way. Essentially, defusion means noticing your thoughts and thinking processes, without getting obsessed or trying to alter them.

Example: Occasionally, you have intrusive thoughts about someone you love being hurt. Instead of trying to stop the thoughts, you simply acknowledge their presence while realizing thoughts are not reality.

5. Contact with Present Moment

One of the amazing aspects of ACT is its emphasis on living in the here and now. By having contact with the present moment, you are more fully aware of your experiences as they happen at this very moment in time.

Example: While camping in the woods, you notice an eagle flying overhead. In your mind, you say to yourself: I see the eagle and am aware of his flying pattern.

6. Self in Context

The final component of ACT is seeing the self in context. This basically means that you get in touch with your deep sense of self (meaning the “you” who sits behinds your eyes). This is the observant part of who you are and is distinct from your own thoughts, memories, and feelings.

Example: You consider your own human development and where you are in life. As part of this reflection, you are aware that your upbringing has influenced the here and now and may or may not impact the future.

Wrap Up

There’s nothing “new age” about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Instead, it’s an approach to wellness that pulls from the tenants of cognitive therapy while allowing “space” for spirituality and non-linear thinking.

If you are looking for the ultimate way to live in the here and now, I encourage you to learn all that you can about ACT. As a counseling approach for men, I’ve found that guys particularly like this approach to wellness.

To learn more, visit this “What is ACT” page. Thanks for stopping by!


Hayes, S. (2004). Acceptance and commitment therapy, relational frame theory, and the third wave of behavioral and cognitive therapies. Behavior Therapy, 639-655.

About John D. Moore 391 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a licensed counselor and Editor-in-Chief of Guy Counseling. A journalist and blogger, he writes about a variety of topics related to wellness. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Check out his show --> The Men's Self Help Podcast


  1. Some good stuff here. Well worth a read… I have never been clinically depressed, but I am sure I have been low a few times in the past. This is a very good alternative to CBT I think…

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