Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Veterans

Sometimes, feelings of doubt, guilt or resentment prevent us from sourcing the help we need. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can help veterans challenge this tendency.

Through ACT, veterans can learn to reduce avoidance of stressors and instead face their pain and suffering to improve quality of life. Over time, ACT can help you develop psychological flexibility and reduce the feelings of distress you often experience when avoiding the greatest problems in your life.

This treatment modality can help veterans address a wide variety of issues. Whether you’re experiencing addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, family tragedy, trauma or an eating disorder, ACT can help restore the control over your life that you deserve.

Tenets of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) empowers people to process difficult experiences and let go of harmful thoughts and emotions surrounding those experiences without forgetting or dismissing what they’ve been through. With the help of your therapist, you’ll navigate the following three steps in ACT:

1 – Accept thoughts and emotions

Through acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), people learn to recognize and accept negative self-talk. For instance, a veteran who is struggling with drug addiction that has damaged his relationships with his family might think, “I’m a bad person.” The veteran likely avoids or suppresses this thought, leading to worsened anxiety. Ideally, in ACT, the veteran can instead stop and think, “This negative belief I hold does not reflect who I am. This negative feeling will pass.” The goal is to build awareness of your thoughts and their impact on your mood and behavior.

2 – Choose a valued direction

One of the main goals of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is to help veterans reconnect with their personal values by creating discrepancy between behaviors driven by trauma and those that are driven by values. Values are defined as chosen qualities of being and doing that are reflected by ongoing patterns of behavior.

In avoiding painful emotions and memories, veterans may have lost touch with their personal values, leading to a lack of clear identity and direction in life. To define their personal values, veterans must ask themselves questions such as:

  • What do I really want?
  • What do I want my life to stand for?
  • What sort of person do I want to be?
  • What do I want my relationships to look like?
  • What do I want to do with my life?

Answering these questions will help provide direction for moving forward. According to ACT principles, it’s never too late to change the direction of your life in this way.

3 – Take action

Once values have been defined, veterans undergoing ACT take active steps toward changing unwanted or harmful behaviors to move toward living by those values. By acknowledging negative thoughts as just thoughts that will eventually pass, veterans can then detach and create distance from those unhelpful thoughts in order to continue making decisions and taking action in the face of stress, pain or anxiety.

Soldier Having Counselling Session With Head In Hands.

Benefits of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Some of the ultimate benefits of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for veterans include:

  • Control over one’s behaviors, emotions and mental health
  • Effective behavior patterns
  • Healthy thoughts, feelings and goals
  • Mindfulness in stressful situations and everyday life
  • Improved mood
  • Increased resilience

Working with our trained healthcare professionals, you’ll learn to address and embrace life’s difficult aspects, confronting reality and achieving positive outcomes.

Get Help Today

If you or someone you care about is a veteran struggling with mental health, substance use or both, you’re not alone. Recovery is possible. Reach out to Pyramid Military Therapy & Recovery today to learn more about our personalized, evidence-based treatment programs.