ACT therapy at SafeHouse Rehab Center Thailand is the predominant tier of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy favoured by Treatment director Bill Robertson, and Senior Consultant Counsellor Warren Holland. For so many people in early recovery, it is far too difficult a task to grasp and action the idea of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Changing the thoughts simply does not work for many addicts and alcoholics seeking ways out of their active substance abuse, especially when it comes to cravings and thoughts of using. No matter how hard they try, it is often too late. The thoughts and feelings are present.
For example, “For the next 10 secs do not think about pineapple donuts”. How does that go? The dilemma is that even when trying not to think about pineapple donuts, one is indeed still thinking about pineapple donuts. Now try to erase pineapple donuts from the mind. Well, many will find they simply cannot erase thoughts. And for these people, finding out about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can be a major breakthrough. Because, as addicts or alcoholics in early recovery, they have to learn to live and cope with cravings and thoughts of using, and utilising ACT therapy at SafeHouse Rehab is proving gentler, more readily accessible and an effective therapeutic module.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is considered to be, and often referred to as the third wave of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It was developed by Steven Hayes, Ph.D. (Hayes, Strosahl & Wilson, 2011) and teaches mindfulness, focuses on ‘cognitive diffusion’ and indulges Eastern meditative practices. One principle within ACT therapy at SafeHouse Rehab is that in times of distress, we become ‘fused’ with our feelings and thoughts. We therefore elevate their importance and start to believe we ARE our thoughts and feelings. This is particularly observed amongst addicts and alcoholics, as it provides a total and ongoing justification to keep escaping from our thoughts and feelings by taking substances. Further, we can do mind somersaults that morph thoughts and feelings into irrefutable facts about our world and ourselves.
Traditional CBT teaches and trains people to try to change their thoughts and feelings. Whereas the gentler ACT therapy at SafeHouse rehab encourages awareness and acceptance of thoughts and feelings for what they are: issues of no real importance more than that we assign them. People learn to say to themselves, “Oh, I’m having a thought about using a drug” or “I’m having a feeling, a yearning, a memory of the fun I once had using.” Thoughts and feelings such as these simply do not mean you have to use a drug, or that the reality was actually fun! It is merely a thought or a feeling about those things, and has no power to dictate actions. When practicing ACT therapy at SafeHouse Rehab, participants do not indulge attachments to specific thoughts and feelings, but rather learn to fully experience the present moment. Peoples’ core values become clearer in time, and encourage increasing commitment to courses of action based on those values, rather than the ‘lies’ that can be thoughts and feelings.
Incorporated in ACT therapy at SafeHouse Rehab is what’s referred to as a ‘struggle switch’, more simply described as a light-bulb that can be turned on and off at will. Consider the phrase ‘what we resist persists’, coined by the noted Philosopher and Psychologist Carl Yung. This describes the state in which we push against and fight unhelpful issues such anxiety, depression, using thoughts and cravings. By doing so, we automatically experience the recurring illusions that things such as drugs, alcohol, negative and enabling people, committing crimes to support our addiction etc. actually do us good! The reality is completely the opposite. ACT includes a component known as ‘clean discomfort’. This encourages awareness and inspired action to face personal problems such as addiction, anxiety and depression, rather than practicing ‘dirty discomfort’ which only prolongs suffering and inner struggle. A combination of ‘the struggle switch’ and ‘clean discomfort’ ensures ACT therapy at SafeHouse Rehab Center Thailand eases the process of early recovery significantly.
As an evidence-based treatment for addictions, depression, anxiety and other conditions, ACT is hugely successful and much gentler than CBT. And ‘gentle’ is what SafeHouse subscribes to within the rehab setting. ACT has a growing body of evidence and research, some of which can be seen here.