The ACT hexagon model is a hexagonally shaped visual aid for classifying and treating client problems holistically. Each of the six domains corresponds to one of the core ACT principles, all of which have various activities and exercises to help the practitioner push their clients along. Using this tool, the therapist or coach can choose a starting point for their therapy intervention.
The Six Components of ACT
- Present Moment: The present moment is all about being in the moment, and not dwelling on past or future experiences. This means that you have to be fully engaged in whatever you’re doing, and not thinking about anything else. The exercises also help you recognize your feelings, thoughts, and sensations as they happen.
- Acceptance: This component helps you accept what’s happening in your life while taking action toward achieving your goals by learning how to meet challenges with an attitude of openness instead of fear or avoidance. It also teaches you how to let go of negative thoughts about past experiences so that they don’t control your future actions.
- Defusion: This component helps you view your thoughts as just thoughts rather than facts so that you don’t get caught up in them or believe them to be true. This is the ability to recognize your thoughts and feelings as they come, rather than attaching to those thoughts and feelings. It’s like taking a step back from what you’re experiencing so that you can make better decisions about how to act in the moment.
- Values: This component helps clarify what is important to you so that you can live in line with your values rather than other people’s expectations or cultural norms. Values are important because they help you prioritize your actions during difficult situations. They also help you set goals for yourselves and identify what you want out of life beyond just getting by or pleasing other people.
- Committed Action: This component of the ACT hexagon model is all about the willingness to make changes in your life and move forward with your goals. The exercises are meant to help you get more specific about what you want, how you can do it, and why you should do it.
- Self as a Context: This component helps you see how your current thoughts, feelings, and actions are related to your past experiences. It also teaches you how you can use these experiences as a way to understand yourself better and ultimately change how you react to life’s events.
What Can We Learn from the Six Components of ACT
Work toward improving the quality of your own life and the lives around you.
The ACT Hexagon Model helps you focus on what you can change, what you can control, and so on. It reminds us how much of our lives are out of our hands, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it or sit around waiting for things to change. We have a lot of power to make positive changes in our own lives right now—even if they’re small ones at first—and those changes will snowball into bigger ones as time goes by.
Embrace inner values and use them to guide life choices.
The most important lesson that we can learn from the ACT Hexagon Model is that values are personal beliefs that guide our decision-making. When you know your values, you can use them to keep you focused on what matters most in life.
When we know our values and use them to guide our actions, they will help us stay motivated when things get difficult or boring. For example, if one of your core values is being honest with yourself and others, then it makes sense that this would be a priority for making decisions about things like what career path to pursue or whom to marry.
Positive psychological change occurs by committing to and embracing personal values.
Commitment is a process. The commitment process is not always easy and it requires effort, but the results of this work can be life-changing. The more you commit to personal values, the more you will realize their importance in your life, which means that your commitment to them may increase over time.
Practice mindfulness each day as a way to stay present in activities, manage distressing thoughts, and focus on tasks.
The ACT Hexagon Model teaches that mindfulness is the ability to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions in the present moment. It’s a way of being, not just a technique—and can be practiced in any activity. Mindfulness takes practice, so don’t expect to master it overnight!
Mindfulness is best experienced when you’re fully engaged in an activity. When you feel yourself “losing” yourself in what you’re doing, that’s mindfulness. You aren’t thinking about anything else except for the activity itself; there’s no past or future involved.
Let go of unhealthy goals, including avoidance of pain and negative emotions. Instead, choose to experience them without reacting.
You can learn to let go of unhealthy goals, including avoidance of pain and negative emotions. Instead, choose to experience them without reacting. Acceptance of negative emotions, thoughts, and experiences is a key part of ACT.
Emotional Avoidance – The failure to experience emotions fully or appropriately for an individual’s situation. This includes the tendency to hide under social masks (e.g., being friendly when you are actually sad); experiencing emotions as dangerous; trying hard to feel something else instead; pushing away feelings; distracting yourself from feelings with substances (food/alcohol) and behaviors (workaholism); avoiding certain situations where you might have strong feelings; denying that you have a problem with emotional avoidance
Clarify which thoughts have value, accept the ones that don’t, and commit to positive action according to your values.
In the context of ACT, this means that you must be aware of your thoughts and how they affect your actions. You will not be able to control every thought in your head, but by being aware of the type of thought that occurs and how it affects your actions, you can begin to develop a sense of control over the negative ones. A common way to do this is by simply observing rather than judging your thoughts as good or bad—if a particular thought doesn’t serve a positive purpose in terms of achieving goals or values, it may be worth questioning why it’s there at all.
While we often think about our brains as having an “off switch” when it comes to stopping us from thinking about certain things, ACT argues that this isn’t always possible because some types of thoughts cannot be stopped—their presence indicates that something needs attention in order for them not only stop bothering us but also for us to take action based on what matters most.
Psychological flexibility is key in every situation
Psychological flexibility is a key component of ACT. It helps us to adapt to change, be more effective in our relationships and at work, and lead happier lives.
Psychological flexibility is the ability to respond effectively to whatever life throws at you with a positive attitude and without being crippled by anxiety or other forms of suffering. It allows us to accept what we cannot change (e.g., whether or not I get that promotion) while working toward positive goals related to the things that can be changed (e.g., improving my performance).
The ACT approach to therapy is more about understanding your current reasons for doing something and how you can do that better. It guides you along the path of self-improvement and acquiring new skills rather than trying to change yourself or make you comfortable with yourself. For anyone looking to invest in their personal growth, I’d highly recommend looking into rehabilitating your thought processes through ACT therapy. The benefits of treating yourself this way will ultimately help you identify your personal values and act on them in a productive manner. So if you’re looking to cut out negative habits or train yourself to be more productive, investing in your own mental well-being through therapy may turn out to be one of the best investments you ever make.