What is ACT therapy?
Most of us want to get rid of our depression, our anxiety, our anger, or whatever problem we struggle with. Unfortunately, this usually doesn't work as well as we'd like it to. We don't get to choose our thoughts or feelings (as much as we would like to). And the more we (naturally!) fight against our thoughts and feelings, the worse they tend to get. We feel even worse, and it's harder be satisfied with the lives we're living.
ACT tries to address this worsening struggle by helping us
(1) develop tools to "unstick" from difficult thoughts and feelings. This isn't about being ok" with our thoughts or feelings. It is about not letting our thoughts and feelings be in charge of what we do.
(2) figure out the life we want to be living, and take steps towards being the person we want to be.
Take the example of worry. Someone who worries frequently may (of course!) find it difficult to be engaged in daily tasks. They might spend a lot of time researching their worries, or avoiding what they worry about, only to find they worry more, can’t sleep, get irritable...it becomes even more difficult to be the “present-focused, patient, caring person” they aspire to be. Their brain then tries to "help" motivate them by making them feel guilty for “not being good enough or doing enough.” The person ends up worrying more and is more overcome with distress and unhappiness. ACT gives this person various tools "step back" from (be less influenced by) their unhelpful thoughts and feelings - here worry and self-blame - and take actions that feel meaningful and satisfying.
In ACT therapy, we look at what your difficult thoughts and feelings are. We look at how those difficult thoughts and feelings are getting in your way. And we also ask the question "getting in the way of what?" In ACT, we think about how difficult thoughts and feelings (as well as life situations!) get in the way of being the person we want to be and in the way of the life we want to live - A life that feels satisfying and is guided by our values (aka the actions that deep within our hearts represent what we want to stand for in life).
ACT is pronounced as it’s spelled (ACT, not pronounced as separate letters), and it helps us do just that - to take ACTion. As we all know, taking action is much easier said than done. Many things get in our way - both external to us and within us. ACT helps us make choices that are more in tune with the people we want to be, and the life we want to live. ACT can help you figure out what you want to stand for, and how to step back from what’s getting in your way.
Our practice specializes in ACT-enhanced ERP. ERP (Exposure-Response Prevention) is the gold-standard treatment for anxiety disorders and OCD. Our expertise in both ERP and ACT allows us to integrate ACT tools into ERP, with the goal of increasing treatment response and success rates. ERP works by helping anxiety-sufferers confront the things that they fear (situations, thoughts, images, feelings) without engaging in the compulsive behaviors or coping strategies that are inadvertently making their anxiety or OCD worse. ACT provides a different coping tools - different strategies to deal with thoughts, feelings, and situations - that help reduce the struggle against anxiety and may help certain people complete ERP. While explanations for why ERP works differ, most agree that a key to ERP success is increasing clients’ willingness to engage in difficult tasks (and confronting one's fears is very difficult!). ACT-ehnanced ERP strives to help clients do just that - increase willingness to engage in difficult exposure tasks with the knowledge that it will help life be much more satisfying. ACT-enhanced ERP provides tools to help reduce struggle with OCD and anxiety, and help free people from the ever-present burden of anxiety or OCD.
Jody Hoffman, PhD, LP
Dr. Hoffman is a Clinical Psychologist with over 20 years of clinical experience and fifteen years of specialty focus in ACT. She began her career as a specialist in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with a strong Behavioral Therapy focus) as well as Interpersonal Therapy (IPT). She retains ongoing specialization in these areas, and in particular in the treatment of anxiety disorders within an Exposure-Response Prevention (ERP) model. Her primary area of practice at our clinic is the treatment of anxiety disorders and OCD within an ACT-enhanced ERP model.
Dr. Hoffman accepts BCN and BCBS insurance at our practice. She also takes referrals within her ACT practice at the University of Michigan Mari A Rackham Institute. She is currently able to accept BCN, BCBS, Meridian, Blue Cross Complete, and Aetna at her UM practice. At her UM practice, she and her colleagues provide ACT-enhanced ERP as well as working within an ACT model to treat a variety of different problems (such as depression, grief, pain, anxiety, and so on).
CORONAVIRUS 2020 NOTE: Please note that as of mid-March, most of our therapy services are delivered via HIPAA-compliant teletherapy and are generally covered by insurance plans. We are able to assist you with determining if your health care plan covers teletherapy.