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About Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) gets it name from one of its core messages: to accept what is out of your personal control, while committing to do whatever you can do to improve your quality of life. The aim of ACT is to help people create a rich full and meaningful life, while effectively handling the pain and stress that life inevitably brings. It does this by: a) teaching you psychological skills to deal with your painful thoughts and feelings effectively — in such a way that they have much less impact and influence over you, and b) helping you to clarify what is truly important and meaningful to you (your values). You then use this knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate you to change your life for the better. This is a scientifically proven model that has been shown to be effective with a wide range of issues, such as depression, anxiety, stress, drug addiction, schizophrenia, anorexia, and many others. For more information please read this article.

At San Francisco Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, we see each individual is whole and continuously changing. Shaped by genes and environment, we all have a unique history of wounds and blessings, and a human spirit that continuously unfolds moment by moment. Sometimes we find ourselves stuck in some important part of life and we feel confused in figuring out how to move forward. Not uncommonly, our typical tools for dealing with life's problems and challenges — tools that used to work well in the past — are no longer working. Even worse, our old tools may actually be making the problems worse. We are left at a loss as to how to proceed and we find ourselves feeling unsure and maybe even helpless about what to do. A psychotherapist is the client's ally and support in the journey toward understanding (1) the client's unique situation, gifts, and challenges, (2) the tools the client uses in trying to fix or cope with his/her problems, and (3) how to expand and strengthen the client's tools (or skills) so that they are more effective and flexible.

Extensively trained in the most current evidence-based psychological interventions, and informed by existential-humanistic and Eastern philosophies and practices, the San Francisco Acceptance and Commitment Therapy group offers a wide as well as deep platform from which to assist individuals in getting unstuck, growing and increasing their psychological flexibility and well-being. Drs. Viveka Ramel and Kelly Werner have comprehensive graduate and post-graduate training from top U.S. universities and institutions in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), and family systems.

At the center, we use an active, problem-solving, present-oriented, and collaborative approach in working with her clients. After a thorough assessment of the presenting complaints and background, a treatment plan tailored to the client's unique needs and goals are agreed upon. We invite a safe, trusting, and genuine working relationship with our clients where open communication and feedback about the collaboration is frequently encouraged.

A characteristic of our style of psychotherapy is an integration of approaches that emphasize mindful awareness and active willingness to experience emotions and thoughts, with approaches that emphasize change, skill building, and behavioral activation. Not only have we found this to be most effective in working with the diverse needs of clients, but scientific research also indicates that the strongest support for treatment gains come from approaches that combine acceptance and change-oriented approaches toward increasing psychological flexibility and self-efficacy (e.g., Berking et al., Behaviour Research and Therapy, 2008). This work is deliberately established to be anchored in the client's unique goals and values. Thus, a key aspect of our approach is encouraging her clients to explore and identify their authentic values (i.e., that which brings intrinsic meaning, purpose and joy to their lives). As such, the work done in therapy is in the service of helping clients move toward actively living their values.