ACT Therapy for Teens

Has your child ever felt angry at themselves for making a mistake? Were they very hard on themselves and had a hard time forgiving themselves? Perhaps you thought to talk with them about how mistakes are ways in which we grow and hoped that they would accept this as part of life’s many challenges.

That’s a little how Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) views stressors and how it works. ACT is a behavior therapy that is largely based on mindfulness and personal values. Australian doctor and psychotherapist, Russell Harris, M.D., defines ACT as “Consciously bringing awareness to your here-and-now experience with openness, interest and receptiveness.”

The Goal of ACT

Unlike other psychotherapies, reducing symptoms isn’t the goal of ACT. The goal is to accept your feelings as normal so that you feel less like you need to control them. As a result, you feel less like fighting them, which means you, paradoxically, regain control.

Dr. Russell uses the analogy of quicksand. If someone were drowning in quicksand and they were flailing their arms about to try release themselves from the quicksand, they’d sink even faster. However, if they laid on their backs and floated on the top, they’d be able to escape the pit, even though their gut instincts are telling them to struggle.

ACT therapy for teens has proven to be successful with many types of challenges like depression, OCD, anxiety, PTSD, anorexia, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse.

ACT Therapy for Teens Has 6 Basic Principles:

  1. Diffusion: Viewing an emotion as a thought or image like any other
  2. Acceptance: Accepting the thought as uncomfortable and letting it come and go without struggling against it
  3. Contact with the present moment: Openly bring it into the present
  4. The Observing Self: Accept feelings as separate from who they are as people
  5. Values: Evaluate feelings according to their own personal values
  6. Committed Action: Set goals and work towards acting on them

ACT therapists work with youth by giving them home practices and exercises. These skills help them better manage their many swirling emotions during the difficult adolescent years. Teens will carry these skills with them throughout their development and into adulthood.

Paradox Psych Services is a child and teen therapy center with two Carlsbad locations: Bressi Ranch and Aviara Parkway. Our child therapists at Bressi Ranch are also near San Marcos. We offer an action and goal oriented approach to child and teen therapy. Additionally, our skilled therapists have earned the highest achievable degree in their field. To learn more about our services, contact us today for a free phone consultation. 

About Susan Gehrig, PhD

Susan Gehrig, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of Paradox Psychological Services located in Carlsbad. She has a passion for supporting the wellbeing of children and teens. Her expertise is in child mindfulness and self-compassion, cognitive behavioral therapy, and child development. Dr. Gehrig provides psychoeducational testing and therapy services to help build a plan for success. Paradox provides services for families of San Diego North County and greater areas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *