In her first meetings with patients, Integrative Psychotherapist Erin Brewer, LPC, discusses various treatment approaches. Once patients have a general understanding of options, they work consciously with Brewer to choose an approach that they want to try. The modality they use most often is ACT-Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.


When Brewer and a patient decide to try ACT, they use six core principles to organize treatment:

  • Mindfulness: Finding ways to stay present with your experience and without judgement
  • Values: Identifying your unique "north stars" to work toward
  • Committed action: Focusing on small things to do to move toward your values
  • Defusion:  Unhooking from the contents of your thoughts, such as thinking you're a terrible speaker and experiencing subsequent emotions for what they are
  • Observing self: Recognizing the part of yourself that's not your thoughts or emotions, but that notices these things
  • Acceptance: Noticing your experience with pain and choosing to loosen your struggle with it


"Something that comes along with ACT is that we recognize as humans that we experience pain. We learn to loosen our struggle with pain so that we experience it for what it is," Brewer says.


As a result, the energy that would’ve gone toward the struggle with pain can instead go toward pursuing values and committed actions. Brewer highlights this through a quicksand analogy: If you struggle against quicksand, you go deeper into it. If you lean in and let it be, you can eventually get past it.


However, she adds that ACT doesn't mean accepting pain without reason. "We accept it so that we can move toward something."


While this approach to therapy doesn't work for everyone, Brewer works with patients to develop a treatment that's right for them. For some people, she says the mindfulness aspect of ACT gives them what they need to go forward. For others, all the principles need to work together.


If you would like to learn more about ACT or integrative therapy available at the Raby Institute, please call (312) 276-1212.


"Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food."
- Hippocrates