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What are the Benefits of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy in Teens?

What are the Benefits of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy in Teens_

Many teens in Arizona were able to cope with their major depression, substance abuse disorder, anxiety disorders, OCD, and PTSD through Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Teen mental health professionals use commitment therapy, CBT, DBT, and ACT to help troubled teens overcome behavioral issues, improve mental health, and battle substance abuse.

This article takes an in-depth look at the benefits of ACT for teens to help you understand why ACT therapy is commonly used in routine clinical practice in Arizona’s adolescent Residential treatment facilities. Join us as we discuss teen ACT effectiveness in teens’ mental health issues.

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Acceptance and commitment therapy is a therapeutic technique that helps teens accept their thoughts and feelings without judgment, stay focused on the present moment, and commit to constructive habits or activities. Instead of denying, avoiding, or struggling with negative emotions or feelings, teens learn to accept them as appropriate responses that shouldn’t hold them back.

At our Teen Mental Health Treatment Center, we have seen significant differences in the teens’ self-worth and confidence after undergoing acceptance and commitment therapy (in combination with other techniques). ACT works best for teens with mental health and behavioral conditions such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, chronic pain, and substance abuse. However, it’s important to note that this treatment might not be the go-to option for teens struggling with suicidal thoughts or self-harm.

Suggested Book For Parents On ACT: Book by Mary Bell and Sheri L. Turrell “ACT for Adolescents: Treating Teens and Adolescents in Individual and Group Therapy:

Who is Suitable For Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Acceptance and commitment therapy emphasizes mindfulness-based stress reduction, encouraging teens to accept and embrace their feelings rather than rebelling against it. This acceptance appeals to teens wishing to control their thoughts and emotions, grow more resilient, and take committed action by aligning their actions with their values or long-term goals. ACT is not limited to a certain demographic. Still, any teen who is grappling with the pressures of adolescence or experiencing difficulties managing their emotions is welcome to try the transformative power of this therapy. The Teen ACT is used primarily to treat the following issues:

  1. Chronic pain among adolescents
  2. Teens with depressive symptoms
  3. Adolescent substance abuse
  4. Teen stress
  5. Teen self-worth and body image issues
  6. Teen behavioral issues
  7. Enhancing academic performance

Benefits of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Teens

Benefits of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Teens

By cultivating present-moment awareness and fostering acceptance, ACT can help teens overcome emotional and mental disorders like anxiety and depression or medical conditions like chronic pain. It can also improve social skills and personal relationships by fostering understanding and regulation of emotions, helping teens become more attuned to their feelings and those of others.

When a comparison was made between CBT and ACT in a randomized controlled trial, ACT provided similar help to adolescents for eliminating their painful emotions, enhancing their cognitive defusion, developing a strong sense of self, and promoting mindfulness for a fulfilling life.

ACT Help in Trauma-Based Mental Health Issues

One of the main aims of acceptance and commitment therapy is to help people exert control over negative feelings or emotions. Through ACT, teenagers obtain a greater awareness of their human experiences, helping them understand their emotional patterns and gain more control over their trauma reactions. As per the present study, ACT interventions help teens learn to observe their thoughts and emotions without judgment, making dissociating from distressing or overwhelming feelings easier. Lastly, ACT aims towards commitment to value-driven actions that can help teens channel their emotions constructively by offering a sense of purpose and direction.

ACT Enhance Coping Mechanisms for Teen Depressive Symptoms

ACT works on instilling positive thoughts in teens and managing distressing emotions or negative experiences. To help teens navigate depression, stress, anxiety, acceptance, and commitment, therapy offers six core processes that include:

Process 1: Acceptance of the situation

Process 2: Eliminating negative thoughts

Process 3: Mindfulness or creating awareness about the present

Process 4: Better understanding of oneself through setting self as context, self as concept, self as process.

Process 5: Understanding and setting value system

Process 6: Ensuring committed action

Note that the time needed to develop enhanced coping skills may vary from teen to teen, depending on their specific challenges, individual factors, and therapy commitment. However, with positive reinforcement and adequate support, changes should be visible within a few weeks or months of committed ACT engagement.

ACT is Beneficial to Boost Teen Low Self-Esteem and Social Anxiety

Medical findings suggest ACT as an effective therapy for self-compassion and self-acceptance, helping teens cultivate a positive self-image or develop their own identity. The mindfulness exercises during the program help reduce self-criticism by teaching non-judgmental observation of thought processes and emotions.

Adolescents also learn to accept and embrace their true selves rather than conform to external standards. Lastly, ACT helps teens clarify their values and set goals aligning with them, promoting a sense of purpose and self-worth.

In our mission to help teenagers achieve more nurturing self-relationships, we incorporate various self-compassion exercises during our Nexus Teen Academy ACT program. These exercises encourage teens to extend themselves the same kindness and understanding they offer others.

We also use therapy techniques and clarification exercises to address their body image and self-acceptance issues. These exercises help teens identify what truly matters beyond physical appearances, encouraging them to build a sense of self-worth based on internal values, not external judgment.

ACT for Academic Stress in Teens

Acceptance and commitment-based program Youth COMPASS was found to be well suited for reducing some stress among adolescents’ well-being in the school context. The ACT helps students to manage the emotional and psychological challenges induced by academic pressure.

For example, the mindful exercises used in ACT can help teens struggling with academic stress reduce or manage the anxiety and overwhelm caused by assignments, exams, or high expectations. ACT can also help teens clarify their values and set meaningful academic goals, ensuring their efforts are channeled toward important objectives.

ACT as a Supportive Tool for Parents of Teens

ACT can also help parents support their teens during mental health treatment for improved outcomes. Let’s see a few strategies that can help you engage with your teenager during ACT sessions, show you how to reinforce the lessons learned during ACT at home, and how your involvement promotes successful teen ACT.

Strategies for Engaging with Teens During ACT Sessions

Engaging with your teen during ACT sessions can help you support their progress and well-being. Here are a few strategies that can help:

Strategies for Engaging with Teens During ACT Sessions- Nexus Teen Academy

  • Joining your teen during therapy with the permission of the therapists.
  • Regularly communicating with your teen’s therapist for guidance and updates.
  • Respecting your teen’s boundaries. Although it’s normal to want to know everything about their sessions and treatment, you should give them space to explore their own experiences and solutions.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate your teen’s ACT progress.
  • Keep communication lines open with your teen. Remember to foster a safe and non-judgmental environment so they are encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings about their ACT sessions easily.

How to Reinforce Lessons Learnt in ACT at Home

You should help your teen apply the principles learned in ACT to their daily lives by reinforcing the lessons learned during the sessions at home. Here are a few ways to reinforce ACT lessons at home:

  • Helping your teen set meaningful goals that align with their values. Remember to celebrate their achievements along the way.
  • Engaging in mindful practices such as meditation or yoga together with your teen.
  • Encouraging your teenager to share their ACT experiences and challenges by creating a safe and non-judgmental environment.
  • Practicing mindful parenting is being present and attentive to your teen’s needs and responding compassionately and thoughtfully to them.
  • Initiating family conversations on values. You can ask other family members to mention the values they hold dear and how they guide their actions and decisions, then encourage your teenager to identify their values.
  • Helping your teenager recognize negative thoughts without judgment.
  • Help your teenager identify potential barriers to their goals and work with them to develop creative solutions.
  • Avoid judging or criticizing your teen for their feelings or thoughts; instead, help them reframe negative thoughts in a compassionate and accepting manner.

How Parental Involvement Contributes to the Success of ACT for Teens

Here are some of the reasons you should be involved in your teen ACT program:

  • Parents offer emotional support and encouragement when involved in their teen’s ACT program, making it easier for them to engage in the therapeutic process and commit to treatment.
  • Parents learn more about their teen’s emotional struggles and experiences when involved in treatment, increasing empathy and reducing potential conflicts for improved outcomes.
  • Involvement in teen ACT makes it easier for parents or caregivers to reinforce the core skills and concepts learned in therapy sessions at home.
  • Getting involved in teen ACT programs helps parents hold their children accountable for practicing and upholding the skills learned in therapy.
  • It promotes collaboration between parents and teens for problem-solving and solution-finding purposes.
  • It helps reduce the stigma commonly associated with mental health issues and treatment.

Finding a Qualified ACT Practitioner

Your teenager deserves the best possible ACT treatment, which calls for a qualified, experienced, and diligent ACT practitioner. Here are some of the qualifications to look out for when choosing an acceptance and commitment therapist:

Relevant Education and Training

Ensure that your teen’s ACT practitioner has a degree in psychology, mental health, counseling, or a related field and additional training or certification in ACT.

Experience

Prioritize ACT practitioners with experience in working with adolescents, as they possess a deeper understanding of the unique developmental needs of this age group.

Licensure and Credentials

Ensure your teen’s ACT practitioner is fully licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. A look at their credentials can help you determine whether they meet the ethical and legal standards required for your teen’s treatment.

Specialization

For better treatment outcomes, settle for an acceptance and commitment therapist specializing in your teen’s issue or concern. Such a therapist will have better experience tailoring treatment plans to meet your teenager’s needs.

Alignment with Values

One of the most critical aspects of acceptance and commitment therapy is value clarification and alignment. Therefore, it is only right that your teen’s ACT practitioner’s values align with yours or your teenager’s.

Benefits of Nexus Teen Academy ACT Therapy

At Nexus Teen Academy, we have a team of qualified, licensed, and experienced ACT therapists specializing in adolescent mental health treatment. They will tailor treatment plans to meet your teen’s unique needs, explain concepts in a way that you and your child can understand, and treat your adolescent with compassion and empathy. Feel free to book a consultation with us.

Here are some reasons why your teenagers will feel more comfortable and engaged in the ACT process with us:

  • Our therapist allows them to make independent choices where possible. For example, we let them pick between different ACT activities to make them feel more controlled.
  • We foster an open and non-judgmental home environment where they feel safe discussing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns.
  • Our exercises involve them in therapy-related decisions and respecting their autonomy.
  • We help them set realistic therapy and also encourage them to be patient and persistent.
  • We encourage parents and family to get actively involved in therapy.
  • The teen feels self-compassionate after ACT therapy with us.

Conclusion

Whether used independently or alongside other therapeutic interventions and techniques, the benefits of acceptance and commitment therapy are immense. Unlike transient mood swings, therapy progress leads to more adaptive and stable emotional regulation, leading to less frequent or extreme emotional fluctuations. At Nexus Teen Academy, we use Teen ACT to enhance teenagers’ emotional regulation, coping mechanisms, self-worth, and present-moment awareness. Feel free to contact us and witness the impacts of this therapeutic technique on your teen’s life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the Goal of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

The main goal of teen acceptance and commitment therapy is to increase adolescents’ psychological flexibility, enabling them to create a rich and meaningful life while accepting the inevitable lows that come with it. This is often achieved by promoting present-moment awareness and transforming how teenagers relate to distressing thoughts and feelings.

2. How Does ACT Differ From Traditional Talk Therapy?

ACT is action-oriented as it fosters mindfulness, psychological flexibility, and values-based actions, while traditional talk therapy mainly focuses on discussing thoughts and emotions. ACT encourages acceptance instead of elimination and commitment to values-aligned behaviors. Additionally, it uses different approaches from traditional cognitive therapy, such as CBT, mindfulness techniques, and experiential exercises.

3. How Long Does a Typical ACT Session Last?

An acceptance and commitment therapy session runs for roughly 50 minutes. However, the program lasts 8-16 weeks, which can be adjusted if intensive treatment is required. Sessions are usually scheduled once every week.

4. Are the Benefits of ACT Long-Lasting for Teens?

ACT usually has long-lasting benefits if the skills and insights gained from the sessions are actively applied and integrated into teenagers’ lives. However, since the duration of the benefits may vary between teenagers, you are advised to offer continued reinforcement and support.

5. Can ACT Help Teenagers with Emotion regulation and Anger Issues?

Yes. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can help teens with anger management issues better understand and regulate their emotions through mindfulness and acceptance techniques, reducing impulsive reactions and fostering better self-control. It can also help such teenagers identify their sources of anger and address the root causes through healthy strategies.

6. Can ACT be Beneficial for Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

ACT is a highly versatile therapeutic technique owing to its easy adaptability. It can be tailored to address unique communication and social interaction challenges presented by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Through visual aids, simplified language, and structured routines, ACT principles can be made more accessible to teens, helping them manage anxiety, develop better emotional regulation and social skills, and cope with sensory sensitivities for improved overall well-being.

7. How Does ACT Compare to Other Therapies for Emotional Regulation in Teens?

ACT differs from other emotional regulation therapeutic techniques, emphasizing acceptance of emotions rather than trying to change or control them. Techniques such as CBT focus on helping teens change negative thought patterns to achieve behavioral change.

8. How Often Should You Expect to See Signs of Improvement in Your Teen Undergoing ACT?

The duration of improvement in teens undergoing ACT can differ depending on several factors. Some teens show noticeable improvements within a few sessions; others need weeks or months of therapy to make substantial progress. However, you should understand that therapy is a gradual process, and real therapeutic change may need time. Remember to offer ongoing support and home reinforcement, encouraging your teenager to practice ACT principles consistently for timely and sustained improvements.

9. Is ACT Suitable for All Types of Mental Health Issues or Psychological Conditions?

ACT is a versatile technique and an effective treatment option for several mental health issues, including trauma, depression, substance abuse, anxiety, and eating disorders. However, its easy adaptability may not cater to every situation or individual. Teens with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia may require other therapeutic conditions. Additionally, treatment professionals must consider the teenager’s preferences and potential responsiveness; therefore, the decision to administer ACT follows a thorough assessment of the teenager’s unique needs and circumstances.

10. How Can ACT Be Combined with Other Forms of Therapy or Treatment?

ACT is normally combined with other interventions or therapeutic approaches for tailored, comprehensive treatment. Its emphasis on value clarification, mindfulness, and behavioral change makes it a good complement for dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and medication-assisted therapy. Its successful integration with other therapeutic approaches requires therapist collaboration and a coordinated treatment plan.

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