In this episode of the PTSD Bytes podcast, Dr. Pearl McGee-Vincent discusses Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) with Dr. Robyn Walser.

Listen to “#19: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)” on Spreaker.

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) aims to help you accept all of your thoughts and feelings, whether positive or negative. By accepting both happy and painful feelings, you learn to not avoid or be controlled them. ACT also helps you identify your values, so you can live a more meaningful life, even when you have unpleasant experiences.

How does ACT work?

ACT focuses on living well, not just feeling good or being happy all the time. Dr. Walser says that this is because human beings aren’t good at turning off just one emotion. If you try to shut down painful feelings, you will also shut down joyful feelings. The goal of ACT is to help you live with all feelings, so you can experience joy, love, and any other values you have.

In weekly ACT sessions, you can learn to change your relationship to your thoughts and feelings. You will practice exercises, such as imaging your thoughts are floating away like leaves on a stream. You may also answer questions like: am I willing to feel my pain, if it means I get to have love or other things in life that are important to me?

Why should I try ACT?

Research shows that ACT works to help many different problems. ACT has effectively treated obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety and chronic pain.

How can I try ACT?

You can ask your mental health provider if there are ACT-trained therapists at your local VA facility. You can also find ACT therapists all over the world, including VA, by searching the online directory here.

ACT app logoACT Coach mobile app

The ACT Coach mobile app was developed to support you during ACT treatment. Even if not in ACT, you can check out the “Learn” section to find out more about this treatment. Dr. Walser also recommends the “Live your Values” section to help identify what really matters to you in life. ACT Coach is available for free for iOS and Android devices.

Introduction to ACT Coach app video:

Additional links

If you are a Veteran who is experiencing a crisis or supporting a loved one who is, dial 988 then press 1 for immediate assistance, or chat online at


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By Andrea L. Jamison

Clinical psychologist with VA's National Center for PTSD

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Published on Oct. 28, 2022

Estimated reading time is 2.3 min.

Views to date: 670

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One Comment

  1. Steve November 4, 2022 at 8:30 pm

    I just finished listening to the #19 podcast about acceptance therapy. It has sat in my inbox for several days, then while cleaning out my files I decided to give a listen. It was very helpful for me to read the transcript while listening to the program. There is a wealth of information in those short ten or so minutes, and will most likely require future a visit(s). Thank you both for highlighting some important concepts about the struggle with pain/or avoiding it and loving, even it is just dealing with myself alone.

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