Compassion, Awareness,
Mindfulness and Acceptance

The Six Core Processes of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy/Training/Coaching (ACT)

There are six core processes in ACT:

  • Contacting The Present Moment means being psychologically present: consciously connecting with whatever is happening right here, right now.
  • Defusion means learning to separate, step back, detach or ‘unhook’ yourself from thoughts and feelings. Instead of getting ‘caught up’, ‘entangled’, ‘hooked’, ‘dominated’, or ‘pushed around’ by them, you learn how to let them ‘flow through you’; to let them come and stay and go - as if they were leaves floating down a stream, or cars driving past outside your house. You learn how to step back and observe your thoughts and feelings, so you can respond effectively - instead of getting ‘tangled up’ or ‘lost in them’.
  • Acceptance means opening up and making room for painful thoughts, feelings and sensations. You learn how to drop the struggle with them, give them some breathing space, and let them be present without getting overwhelmed by them; the more you can open up, and give them room to move, the easier it is for your thoughts and feelings to freely ‘flow through you’; to come and stay and go without draining you or holding you back.
  • The Observing Self is the ‘part’ or ‘aspect’ of you that is able to notice whatever you are thinking or feeling or doing at any moment. The technical term for this, in ACT, is ‘self-as-context’. We don't have a word for it in common everyday language - we normally just talk about ‘the mind’. But we can talk about ‘two parts’ to the mind. We can talk about the thinking self - i.e. the part that is always thinking; the part that is responsible for all your thoughts, beliefs, memories, judgments, fantasies etc. And we can talk about the ‘observing self’: the part of your mind that notices everything that you think and feel and see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.
  • Values are what you want your life to be about, deep in your heart. What do you want to stand for in life? What you want to do with your time on this planet? What kind of person do you want to be? How do you want to treat yourself and others?. What strengths and qualities would you like to be remembered for by the people you love?
  • Committed Action means taking action guided by your values - doing what matters - even if it's difficult or uncomfortable.
When you put all these things together, you develop psychological flexibility and resilience. This is the ability to be in the present moment, with awareness and openness, and take action, guided by your values. In other words, it's the ability to be present, open up, and do what matters. The greater your ability to be present, open up and do what matters, the greater your quality of life; the greater your sense of vitality, well being and fulfillment.