Find out how we can help you on your road to recovery.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is one of the approaches we use at Vogue Recovery as part of our integrative model of care. ACT was developed in the 1980s to support positive behavior changes. It marries several applied behavior analysis and cognitive behavioral therapy principles while incorporating a significant amount of mindfulness practices.

What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

The focus of acceptance and commitment therapy is to help you:

  • Create a meaningful life
  • Increase “psychological flexibility”
  • Decrease suffering

Acceptance and commitment therapy encourages you to stop trying to avoid or push away difficult feelings and thoughts. Instead, you are taught to notice them and accept them as normal occurrences that are separate from yourself. ACT also helps you identify your core personal values and use them to guide all parts of your life and decisions.

Behavior Therapy Program

The FEAR Acronym

Acceptance and commitment therapy posits that most problems are linked to the processes behind the ACT acronym, FEAR. These are:


Cognitive fusion is when you cannot detach yourself from thoughts and you believe your thoughts are facts, even if you don’t have evidence to support those feelings. You have a hard time separating yourself from your thoughts, and they govern your life. For example, you made a small mistake on a math test and then have the thought, “I am just no good at math, and I will never be good at math.” If you have trouble with cognitive fusion, this becomes a belief or fact in your mind that you cannot separate from yourself.


Evaluation is judging your inner experience. This comes in the form of thoughts and feelings, which you label as either bad or good. For example, you label any thought about drugs or drug use as bad. Similarly, you may label some feelings like anger or jealousy as bad. Judgement of your inner experience can impact your psychological health and behaviors.


Pushing negative feelings away or trying to escape them through distractions, substances, work, etc. is known as avoidance in ACT. If you feel an unwanted emotion or thought, you attempt to get rid of it through numbing or distractions. This is often a behavior that becomes automatic. You may not realize you’re doing it.


In ACT, reason-giving is the term for the barriers you put up in front of change. These are the beliefs and justifications you have for why you cannot do something, view something a different way, or change a behavior. It’s your, “I can’t do it” story. For example, “I am not creative, so I can’t learn any instruments,” or, “I’m not strong enough to quit drinking, and my life is too hard.”

Changing Behaviors Through ACT Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy teaches you to address FEAR and identify your core values by changing unhealthy thought patterns. This is achieved through the core principles of acceptance and commitment therapy including teachings on:

1. Acceptance

ACT encourages you to withhold judgement about feelings and negative emotions. Instead, you notice thoughts and emotions as just that: thoughts and emotions. You don’t:

  • View them as bad or good
  • Create stories around them
  • Try to push them away
  • Try to numb them

2. Presence

A part of accepting your inner experience without judgement is staying in the present moment. This keeps you from attaching future and past meanings to feelings and spiraling into ruminating thoughts. In ACT, you’ll learn techniques to help you stay present, like:

  • Mindfulness
  • Breathwork
  • Getting in touch with your senses
  • Other exercises

3. Cognitive Defusion

Cognitive defusion techniques help you become less “fused” with your thoughts. You learn that you are not your thoughts and that thoughts aren’t facts. Some cognitive defusion techniques used in ACT that can create space between you and your thoughts may include:

  • Saying your thought out loud over and over again until it feels like just a sound
  • Giving a texture, size, shape, or color to a thought
  • Labeling your thought as a thought: “I am having a thought right now that I won’t be able to do this.”
  • Thanking your mind for providing the thought

4. Values

Sometimes values can be based on past influences, “shoulds,” or expectations from others. An important part of ACT is helping you get in touch with your core values and using these to guide you in the main parts of your life like career, spirituality, family, and decision-making.

5. Self as Context

ACT teaches you to be an “observing self.” Mindfulness and acceptance can help with this. You’ll learn to take a step back when you’re feeling distressed by thoughts or feelings and see yourself as an individual with normal experiences like thoughts and feelings—that thoughts and feelings are just experiences. You don’t need to feel attached or invested in them.

6. Action

ACT encourages committed action. You’ll identify concrete goals based on your core values and the roadblocks preventing you from achieving them. Principles you’ve learned as part of acceptance and commitment therapy, such as cognitive defusion and presence, can help you pursue these goals.

How Does ACT Therapy Help Addiction?

Research shows that acceptance and commitment therapy is effective for people with substance use disorders. ACT in addiction treatment can help reduce alcohol and drug use when used alone and in combination with other therapies. ACT is also helpful in treating chronic pain and mental health disorder symptoms. These two challenges are often underlying issues in addiction, leading people to cope with drugs and alcohol.

Practices learned in ACT like mindfulness, acceptance, and self as context can help you stay grounded in the present moment. These are healthy coping skills you can use when cravings arise or thoughts and feelings that trigger substance use come up.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy at Vogue Recovery Center

Vogue Recovery Center’s behavioral health specialists are trained in acceptance commitment therapy as well as several other evidence-based addiction treatment approaches. We create customized treatment plans for each of our clients that are based on:

  • Clinical needs
  • Past experiences
  • Goals
  • Preferences

Your treatment plan may include ACT and other traditional approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR for trauma and substance abuse. We may also integrate holistic practices like yoga, art therapy, and nutrition. Our treatment of substance abuse philosophy supports overall healing and well-being and teaches you ways to live a fulfilling, healthy life without drugs and alcohol.

Looking for Help?

We know it’s hard to imagine right now, but recovery is possible. You can live the life you deserve and have fun doing so. Vogue Recovery Center and addiction therapy like ACT can help.

Acceptance and commitment therapy is an important part of our overall approach to treatment. We will individualize your treatment plan with a selection of traditional and alternative therapies for addiction and mental health that may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Mental health treatment for co-occurring disorders (dual diagnosis)
  • Individual mental health and addiction counseling
  • Group and family therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Yoga and fitness
  • Relapse prevention training
  • Music and art therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Medication management for psychiatric disorders
  • Introduction to 12-step programs and non-12 step groups

Our addiction treatment centers offer levels of care that include:

We can pair you with the inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment program that fits your needs and life situation. Call us for a free, confidential consultation.

Trusted & Accredited Addiction Treatment Centers

the joint commission logo


We’re Here 24/7

(866) 682-8449