What is ACT?

Developed within a coherent theoretical and philosophical framework, ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) is a unique empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behaviour change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility.

ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy), pronounced as a word ACT not A.C.T. , is one of the third wave CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) type therapies.

ACT is a very active form of therapy. You will learn skills to handle difficult thoughts and feelings more efficiently, so that they have less impact and influence over you.

I offer this either on a one to one basis or in a workshop format. This is not group therapy. It is skills training. This takes place at Bristol Nuffield Hospital - Chesterfield.

One to one therapy with take place at my office at Redland Office Centre.

The ACT workshops are aimed at skills building. The workshops are offered as course of therapy which will put you in touch with your own values and teach you to put in place attainable goals in line with your values.

This therapy model will increase your psychological flexibility and resilience leading to you being able to live a richer fuller and more meaningful life.

 

Tania with Steve Hayes at World conference in Berlin.

 

quote66Ahead of my first session with Tania, I was very sceptical that she would be able to help me in any way. I had been suffering from anxiety for all of my adult life and was convinced that it was a problem I had probably been born with. I had always been a worrier since I could remember and it had got progressively worse to the point where it was making even the thought of carrying out the smallest task unbearable. I was plagued with physical anxiety, intrusive and obsessive thoughts and as a consequence was struggling to function or see any way out of it.

Meeting with Tania for the first time, she was able to allay my initial fears; that I wasn't crazy or beyond help. Immediately, she reassured me that my symptoms were all classic signs of anxiety and that, if I was willing to put the effort in, it was something that could be addressed. We also discussed the advantages of taking an anti-depressant, something I had always been fearful of, but Tania was able to explain how they would be able to help in addition to our therapy sessions; anti-depressants weren't a magic cure but they would help to balance my emotions enough that I would be able to focus and take in the therapy.

To start we looked initially at CBT. The most enlightening thing I discovered was that anxiety wasn't a life sentence; a chronic condition that I had to learn how to control. Tania explained that I had learnt or picked up negative patterns of thinking and CBT would be a useful tool to help break down my thoughts and change the patterns that were leading me to feel overwhelmed, anxious and scared. Working through this with a book with weekly exercises also provided a structure to the therapy which was invaluable.

As my therapy progressed and I was feeling an improvement, we started to establish that there were several issues in terms of the environment I had grown up in and how this would have led to certain thoughts and feelings and eventually anxiety and panic. Tania also felt that I had difficulties with dealing with my thoughts; a large part of my struggle was what I perceived to be unacceptable thoughts and I was prone to trying to push them away and therefore creating a vicious cycle of unwanted thoughts- anxiety and panic- and therefore more unwanted thoughts and more anxiety and panic. This had also caused me to try and gain more and more control in order to minimise the chances of having these unwanted thoughts- I would avoid anything that might make me worry and therefore adopted a rigid routine of sticking to what I considered 'safe' places or people and I avoided being alone at any cost. I considered my partner as my safety net and ensured that he was with me as much as possible. In turn, I therefore felt like a failure and constantly compared myself to other people and what they had been able to achieve and how strong they were in comparison. As we completed the CBT therapy and moved onto Mindfulness, I was able to understand that it was completely normal to have a range of thoughts, positive and negative. I had assumed that everyone else that I perceived as 'happy' and 'normal' never had negative thoughts or felt sad; that they were just the lucky ones that could cope with life.

For me, the mindfulness therapy was pivotal in my journey. Tania guided me through a book about mindfulness and acceptance and from the start it felt like it had been written about me. It explained that everyone felt sad sometimes and so this wasn't about finding a cure to stop uncomfortable thoughts and feelings; it was about learning how to accept this as a part of being alive and that it was ok. It challenged my belief that I had to control what I thought and therefore felt and keep any negativity away at all costs in order to be happy. Over the next few months it took me through a variety of exercises that taught me how to accept all thoughts and feelings and that I could lead a fulfilling life with or without these. I began to put myself in situations I had previously avoided oblivious to whether I felt anxious or sad and soon learnt that the more I did this the less power I was giving to these thoughts and feelings that had previously dictated my life. Although they were still there on many occasions I was able to sit with them like any other thought and feeling and so it was breaking the anxiety/panic cycle I had previously been stuck in.

Six months on, i've built on the skills I have learnt and I'm experiencing a life that is so much more fulfilling and richer than previously. I don't feel happy every minute of the day and I have ups and downs like everyone else but i've learnt that that's ok. It's the same life but where it was black and white before it's now very much in technicolour and so much more rewarding for myself and the people around me as I'm less on guard and so much more open.

quoteMy therapy with Tania has been invaluable and literally life changing and I can't be thankful enough. Throughout the entire process, I never felt 'weird' or 'wrong' and was able to talk about whatever I was feeling without the fear of being judged. There is a massive stigma still attached to mental health and I only hope that by sharing my experiences that it will become accepted like any other ailment. Like Tania explained, if you broke your leg then you would go to see a doctor and get it fixed so why should it be any different with your mental health. I really hope that people going through similar experiences will see that there is support out there and it's not just their cross to bear.

ACT Workshop with Tania at Nuffield Bristol.

 

quote66Tania’s approach to Act is to re-programme the way your mind works. It’s not a quick or easy fix - it takes time and dedication and requires some ongoing practice.

Through ACT Tania has fundamentally changed my outlook on life and in particular the way I deal with stress and anxiety. It has made me realise that contentment and happiness is a choice; something yo can control rather than simply being a product of what happens to you.

The workshops gave me the tools I needed to move forward with my life. During the sessions you reflect on the things that brought you there but also think very practically about how to move forward, in the short and long term. The sessions are short and targeted and did not leave me feeling overwhelmed with emotion. The workshop was spread out over a few weeks and this gave me time to think about what I learned, try to put it into practice and figure out what it meant for me. For the first time in a longtime I feel clearer about my goals and values. I feel hopeful

Working with Tania has enhanced my life personally and professionally. Tania is very insightful and supportive, she encourages people to take stock, identifying for themselves what is working for them and what is holding them back. Tania gives you the keys to your own toolbox!

Acceptance and Commitment therapy taught me that making small, immediate changes can lead to significant improvements in my relationships. It also helped reduce stress by teaching me to live in the moment

Obviously it is bound to be slightly awkward to be asked to share experiences in a workshop environment, but I can honestly say that after the first workshopquote I felt relieved that actually people from all walks of life experience the same feeling as me and that I am not alone. WE commenced on a 6 week journey discussing many aspects of relationships from Family, Couple, Social to work, how you want to behave, improve and develop within these relationships.

therapist quoe Therapy is a safe and nurturing space in which you can get all the buried anguish out, see your problems or fears for what they really are and get shot of them forever.

I never believed that I could ever like myself deep down as I was taught to be worthless by an early age, but seeing Tania has changed that...
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