The Focused Mindfulness Center

Mindfulness Based Talk Therapy


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy 

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an action-oriented approach to psychotherapy that stems from traditional behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Clients learn to stop avoiding, denying, and struggling with their inner emotions and, instead, accept that these deeper feelings are appropriate responses to certain situations that should not prevent them from moving forward in their lives. With this understanding, clients begin to accept their issues and hardships and commit to making necessary changes in their behavior, regardless of what is going on in their lives, and how they feel about it.

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) teaches mindfulness skills to help individuals live and behave in ways consistent with personal values while developing psychological flexibility. Practitioners of ACT help individuals recognize ways in which their attempts to suppress, manage, and control emotional experiences create challenges. By recognizing and addressing these challenges, individuals can become better able to make room for values-based actions that support well-being.


Acceptance and commitment therapy aims to increase one’s psychological flexibility. This can be an important skill that many individuals  could benefit from improving. Psychological flexibility is a complex concept. It includes being able to be in the present moment with your mind and your body in a way that allows you to be aware of what is happening in the now. Additionally, psychological flexibility includes being able to intentionally act in ways that are beneficial and helpful to yourself. By being more psychologically flexible, you can behave in ways that are connected to your own personal values and goals.


ACT commonly employs six core principles to help clients develop psychological flexibility:

  • Cognitive diffusion: Learning methods to reduce the tendency to reify thoughts, images, emotions, and memories. 
  • Acceptance: Allowing unwanted private experiences (thoughts, feelings and urges) to come and go without struggling with them. 
  • Contact with the present moment: Awareness of the here and now, experienced with openness, interest, and receptiveness. (e.g., mindfulness). 
  • The observing self: Accessing a transcendent sense of self, a continuity of consciousness which is unchanging. 
  • Values: Discovering what is most important to oneself. 
  • Committed action: Setting goals according to values and carrying them out responsibly, in the service of a meaningful life.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a type of psychotherapy that involves a combination of cognitive therapy, meditation, and the cultivation of a present-oriented, non-judgmental attitude called "mindfulness." Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was developed by therapists Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale, who sought to build upon a form of therapy called cognitive therapy, developed by Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s. They felt that by integrating cognitive therapy with a program developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), therapy could be even more effective.


Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy builds upon the principles of cognitive therapy by using techniques such as mindfulness meditation to teach people to consciously pay attention to their thoughts and feelings without placing any judgments upon them, or without getting caught up in what could have been or might occur in the future. It provides clarity of thought and can give you the tools needed to more easily let go of negative thoughts instead of letting them feed your depression. Much like with cognitive therapy, MBCT operates on the theory that if you have a history of depression and become distressed, you are likely to return to those automatic cognitive processes that triggered a depressive episode in the past.

The combination of mindfulness and cognitive therapy is what makes MBCT so effective. Mindfulness helps you observe and identify your feelings while cognitive therapy teaches you to interrupt automatic thought processes and work through feelings in a healthy way. The goal of MBCT is to help patients with chronic depression learn how to avoid relapses by not engaging in those automatic thought patterns that perpetuate and worsen depression. In fact, a study published in The Lancet found that MBCT helped prevent depression recurrence as effectively as maintenance antidepressant medication.

On average, MBCT was shown to reduce the risk of relapse for people who experience recurrent depression by nearly 50%, regardless of their sex, age, education, or relationship status.


Much of the practice of this therapy however, is done outside of session. Clients are asked to do homework, which includes listening to recorded guided meditations and trying to cultivate mindfulness in their daily lives. This may mean bringing mindfulness to day-to-day activities, like brushing your teeth, showering, washing the dishes, exercising, or making your bed, by applying MBCT skills such as:

  • Paying close attention to what is going on around you.
  • Participating without being self-conscious.
  • Taking a non-judgmental stance.
  • Focusing on the moment without distraction from other ideas or events.
  • Doing what works rather than second-guessing yourself.


The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life