Why ACT for coaching?

What is acceptance and commitment coaching?

Acceptance and commitment coaching (ACC) is a rapidly growing area of coaching that is based on the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). It offers a clear theoretical underpinning through which coaches can understand the underlying mechanisms and processes of any change that occurs, and how language and thinking influence human behaviour. ACC is based on the assumption that the coachee is not broken, but simply struggling with the way humans tend to respond to the language-machine of the mind.

ACC is uniquely suited to coaching, and the transition to ACC from ACT has been simple. It is based on language-based learning processes that are fundamental to all human functioning. The coach’s role is simply to facilitate and promote this process of change, and the versatile nature of ACC means that it is perfectly suited to any issue that a coachee presents with, regardless of their industry or area of work. The focus is on helping the coachee develop their psychological flexibility, and values-based change will follow.

A refreshing experience for coachees

The theoretical basis of ACC offers a clear and robust framework within which the coach can exercise creativity and collaborate freely with their coachee. ACC is by its nature experiential, which lends it to interesting, engaging coaching interactions. Many find it to be a refreshing departure from the highly verbal counselling style of interaction that many expect or have experienced previously in coaching.

The underlying theory of relational frame theory (RFT) informs the nature of the coaching interaction.  It emphasises direct, experiential learning over verbal instruction. This promotes the use of creative exercises, metaphors, and interactions that are designed to enrich coachees’ understanding of their inner worlds and the interaction between their behaviour and the outside world. As a result, there is often an added level of dynamism and experiential immersion to the coaching interaction.

ACC is inherently humanistic, compassionate, and optimistic. It is based on the assumption that as human beings, each of us has a set of values, a core purpose, one that can get lost in the swirl of thoughts, feelings, and judgment that are an inevitable part of the human experience. And yet, even when these thoughts seem overwhelming or the feelings unbearable, it is possible to connect with these values and take action to live a life of meaning. At its best, ACC is not just effective in terms of behaviour change, it is personally empowering and ennobling.

Gaining popularity of ACC and future developments

While coaching is a well-established discipline in multiple areas, including health and wellness coaching, career coaching, and business and executive coaching, the growing profile of coaching will continue to come with a growing necessity for regulation, professionalism, and scientific rigour. ACC offers something that is absent elsewhere in the coaching world, answering the question “how does it work?” with a clear theoretical basis that can be applied to any issue.

ACC is a revolutionary coaching approach that is gaining popularity for its clear theoretical basis and versatility in addressing any issue a coachee presents with. It offers an experiential and dynamic coaching interaction that is based on humanistic, compassionate, and optimistic principles. As the coaching world continues to grow, ACC offers a necessary level of professionalism, regulation, and scientific rigour that will enable it to remain a credible and effective coaching approach.

 

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