Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

What Is ACT?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is used to treat OCD and anxiety disorders. ACT along with Exposure Response Prevention can show meaningful results in treatment.

The purpose of ACT is to increase psychological flexibility, helping patients enter the present moment in a meaningful way and either alter or continue a behavior while moving in connection to a person's values.

ACT helps to alter functions of private experiences that are keeping people entangled such as their thoughts, feelings, memories, or bodily reactions. The therapy encourages people to have a different relationship with their thoughts and feelings and learn to embrace them rather than fight them. Patients can commit to facing the problems in their lives head-on rather than practicing avoidance. By choosing an action, people can alter their own experiences and embrace challenges.

ACT differs from ERP in that it focuses less on the obsessional component (with OCD) and more on changing how experiences occur within the person.

Therapists help the patient see uncomfortable thoughts and feelings as not inherently bad and not label them as such. ACT teaches that people can experience obsessions and choose not to engage in compulsions. Helping people learn ways to experience obsessions and anxiety that allow more flexibility for these experiences. OCD and anxiety sufferers understand they can openly embrace thoughts and feelings and continue to move forward in their lives in a meaningful way. Through flexibility, sufferers learn no matter what subtype of OCD emerges they can continue engaging in the activities of their life, even if an obsession is present.

There are 6 core principles of ACT that are helpful in therapeutic practice:


Acceptance involves acknowledging the full range of emotions of thoughts and feelings rather than avoiding, denying, or altering them.

Cognitive Diffusion

Cognitive diffusion assists in changing the way one reacts to distressing thoughts and feelings, helping to reduce their harmful effects. Examples include observing thoughts without judgment, singing the thought, adding humor, and labeling the automatic response.

Being Present

Being present involves being mindful of the present moment while observing thoughts and feelings. The goal is to not judge thoughts or feelings and not work to change them.

Self as Context

Self as a context is an idea that focuses on the self and identity, helping people understand they are more than their thoughts, feeling, and experiences.


Values work encompasses choosing personal values and striving to live by identified values. Despite one’s distress levels, choosing to live in alignment with personal values is the goal.

Committed Action

Committed action involves taking direct steps to incorporate meaningful change that aligns with personal values and leads to healthy change. Examples include goal setting, exposure to challenging things, and skill development.

At CalmOCD we see so much value in utilizing both ERP and ACT for OCD and anxiety sufferers.

The modalities complement each other well, and patients learn so much by implementing both methods. OCD operates in such a rigid way, and ACT principles allow for psychological flexibility in daily living. Values work in OCD treatment is especially helpful, as the person learns they can experience a variety of discomfort and still choose to live a life based on their personal values.

Ready to Start Your Healing Journey?

If interested, please follow the steps below! Due to the high volume of inquiries please allow 48 hours for a response.


Submit an online inquiry


You will receive a response from CalmOCD within 48 hours and a 15 minute complimentary consultation will be scheduled

Intake Session

If CalmOCD seems to be a good fit based on your individual needs, an intake session will be scheduled.