There are dozens of different types of therapy out there. It can be difficult to know which one to choose. What is the difference between acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)? No matter how overwhelming all of the options are, remind yourself there is an option for you. Here is a list of common forms of therapy and what each entails.
What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?
CBT is the most studied form of psychotherapy. It focuses on problems you are currently facing and finding solutions to those problems. This form of therapy doesn’t often dwell on your past for long. It focuses on your reactions to certain situations and problems you are facing right now. If your reactions aren’t very healthy, CBT works to give you strategies to make them more so.
CBT comes from the idea that you face problems due to unhealthy patterns of thinking or unhealthy learned behaviors. However, just because you sometimes think or behave in an unhealthy way, that doesn’t mean you have to continue on that path. CBT works to help you get in the habit of making healthier decisions about thinking and acting.
What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?
ACT is another popular form of therapy used to help with anxiety, anger, addiction, and more. It focuses on the way you talk about yourself and your emotions when discussing relationships, life events, etc. By focusing on your “self-talk,” you can learn to accept your feelings and commit to working toward a better outcome when a similar situation arises. Unlike CBT, ACT weaves from past to present situations to understand why your thinking patterns are the way they are.
ACT differs greatly from CBT right down to its original reasoning. CBT approaches therapy from the perspective that “problems come from unhealthy thinking and behavior.” ACT’s approach to therapy is with the idea that “problems develop unhealthy thinking and behavior.”
By working with a therapist who specializes in ACT, you will learn how to sit with anxiety, fear, sadness, and other difficult emotions and how to feel them healthily. Those who find ACT beneficial may struggle to name the emotions they are feeling. ACT’s approach to therapy is especially useful to those who have learned that expressing your emotions is weak. ACT forces you to feel and express them, but in a safe and judgment-free environment. Learning to name and express your feelings gives you an easier time learning coping mechanisms for them.
What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is similar to ACT in a few ways, but they have one major difference. Normally, ACT is beneficial to those who struggle to identify their emotions. DBT is the opposite as those who use DBT as their form of therapy feel their emotions very intensely. This type of therapy works to validate who you are and works to give you ways to accept yourself and calm your feelings.
DBT’s approach to therapy is that your thinking patterns directly affect your emotions and behaviors. Pessimistic thinking patterns will contribute to more negative emotional states and behaviors. Because DBT works most effectively with those who experience intense emotions, it has developed four steps to help regulate your emotions.
- Stabilizing behavior: You will work with a therapist to find hostile thinking patterns and behavior, work to accept them, and find solutions and coping mechanisms.
- Processing trauma: DBT often works for those who have experienced various forms of trauma and unhealthy emotional expression in their past. In this stage, you will talk about those experiences and learn to accept that they happened. It is very much a “you can’t change the past” approach. Once you begin to accept your past experiences, you will be better prepared to cope with your feelings in current situations.
- Making realistic goals: It isn’t that uncommon to make a list of goals where half of them are just impossible to achieve. In the third stage of DBT, you will work with your therapist to set realistic and achievable goals for yourself moving forward.
- Finding your purpose: In the last stage of DBT, you are now equipped with coping skills that will help you control your intense emotions and participate in positive thinking and behaviors. You have set achievable goals for yourself, and now it is time to explore your new outlook on life. Without constantly thinking negatively or dreading when the negative feelings will come, you can find what your life is supposed to mean for you.
There Is No One and Done
Some people may get lucky and find the right therapist and the right type of therapy on their first go. That often isn’t the case. If you don’t find your first pick helpful, don’t give up! The right one may be one therapist away. Keep trying.
Mindfuli understands how overwhelming your choices are when it comes to choosing a type of therapy to try. Talking to any therapist is a big step, and you should feel proud for making it this far. A therapist or counselor can help you discuss your options for therapy. This way, you can get some help with your decision in a constructive way. You should never feel stuck in one form of therapy or with one therapist. There are options out there for a reason. Don’t be afraid to try out as many as you can. Believe that one will work for you because one will. Call (866) 973-4415 to learn more.