ACT has utilized a significant scientific framework and evidence base to approach clinical behavioural change. See, for example, A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Towards What Matters, by Stephan Hayes (2019). A basic assumption of ACT is that suffering is a normal and unavoidable part of human experience and that it is that people’s attempts to control or avoid their own painful experiences lead to much long-term suffering. ACT helps people learn ways to let go of the struggle with emotional and somatic pain, be more mindful, get clarity on what really matters to them, and to commit to living full, vibrant lives.
ACT uses mindfulness practices to help people become aware of and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion toward painful thoughts and feelings. Additionally, ACT heavily emphasizes the role of values to help people create meaningful lives. ACT is centered on such questions as “What do you really want your life to be about?” or “If you lived in a world where you could have your life be about anything, what would it be?”
BT focuses on an individual’s learned, or conditioned, behaviour and how this can be changed. The approach assumes that if a behaviour can be learned, then it can be unlearned (or reconditioned), therefore, it is useful for dealing with issues such as phobias or addictions.
Behaviour therapy helps a person understand how changing his or her behaviour can lead to positive changes in his/her life. Often, the focus is on helping the person engage in positive or value-consistent behaviours. The clinical team works with the client to examine the barriers to or difficulties in engaging in these types of behaviours. The clinicians also teach the client to analyze their own behaviour, as well as the effects their behaviours have on mood and other areas of life. This approach tends to be more time-limited and focused on a specific problem that the person is encountering.
BA is designed to manage the consequences often seen with someone who is suffering from depressed mood. BA focuses on the individual’s behaviours that keep him or her stuck in a “depressed mood”. The clinical team helps the client examine their triggers for depression-related behaviours, as well as the effects of depressive behaviour on mood and pursuit of important activities (e.g. participating in family and recreational activities, attending work, etc.) and encourages the client to engage in behaviours that disrupt the cycle of depression.
DBT is a behavioural treatment that was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and it is now recognized as the gold standard of psychological treatment for this population. In addition, research has shown that utilizing elements of DBT can be effective in addressing a wide range of other disorders such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders.
PE is specifically designed to address the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder . Early in counselling, the client creates a list of situations that are safe, but typically avoided because they cause anxiety. Together with the clinician, the client learns to approach each situation on the list, starting with the easiest ones, and stay in each situation for a specific amount of time. By staying in previously avoided situations, the client develops new skills for handling anxiety, learns how to re-evaluate their perceptions of danger, and increases their self-confidence. Additionally, PE includes processing the traumatic event by talking about it in a safe and supportive atmosphere. Because approaching avoided situations and reimagining traumatic events can be very difficult, our clinicians work in a compassionate and collaborative manner to help people achieve success with PE.