This therapy integrates the most useful parts of Western psychology, and Eastern philosophies. It includes the Buddhist idea that most human suffering is caused by an attachment or desire for things that are often temporary or unattainable. So you start by accepting everything exactly the way it is, without trying to change it. Fighting against reality is the cause of a great deal of our angst and suffering.
Having accepted that things are the way they are and you are exactly the way you are, you can then learn some new skills to help deal more powerfully with life. This is the paradox of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT); but get the balance right, and it works. Integration of other Buddhist and Taoist concepts like mindfulness, expansion, and going-with-the-flow distinguish ACT from other therapies.
An underlying principle is that happiness comes from doing what works in practice, rather than from what we think should work. Ask “Does that work?” instead of “Is that right?” Let go of the need to be right, and of your hard luck story. Letting go of beliefs based on the way we think things should be helps relieve stress and anxiety. Being truly confident means being able to go with the flow, and not needing to be in control all the time.
Many in the therapeutic world consider ACT to be the new gold standard for therapy, preferring it to the previous leading light of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In practice, there is considerable overlap between the two as ACT has borrowed the parts of Western psychology that work from CBT, just as it borrowed from Cognitive Therapy and Behavioral Therapy. While CBT is about taking control, ACT is more about letting go.
Check out my interview with best-selling author Dr Russ Harris to learn more about ACT.
Best of both worlds: Eastern and Western
Goes against the Western go-getter mindset that causes so much of our neurosis
Goes against our Western go-getter mindset
May seem contradictory at first