5 Ways to apply ACT Principles to Coaching

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At its core ACT recognizes that psychological suffering arises from our struggle to control or avoid unwanted thoughts, emotions, and sensations. Rather than trying to eliminate or suppress these experiences, ACT invites us to accept them as normal and make room for them in our lives. By shifting our focus towards taking action aligned with our values, we can create a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and inner peace. Learn more in this blog.


Acceptance & Commitment Therapy is becoming more widely acknowledged within coaching practice. It is one of the modalities that we explore on the ICF Accredited Level 1 Certification in Integrative Coaching.

If you’re new to ACT then this previous blog post will provide you with a brief overview of its principles and the role of psychological flexibility as a way for us humans to lead more authentic lives. In essence ACT is based on the idea that psychological suffering can originate from the struggle to push back or control unwanted thoughts, emotions and our internal world. Instead of trying to eliminate these ACT suggests that making room for difficult emotions whilst noticing without aiming to change or control our inner world can be healing. It also helps us to live a life in line with our values.

Want to Become an Accredited ICF Coach?

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Our Level 1 and 2 Diplomas in Integrative Coaching are delivered online, flexibly over a number of evenings and weekends. The Level 1 Diploma covers the fundamentals of coaching and also frameworks such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Coaching approaches to coaching. 

We help you develop your self awareness and build your own framework of working with clients in line with the ICF Competencies and Ethics. 

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Below are key ways how as coaches we can apply ACT principles for transformative results:

1. Cultivating Mindfulness: When working with clients support them to be more mindful, particularly in relation to what is happening right now. Within ACT we enable our clients be more in tune of their inner world.  This level of self-awareness will help your client to focus and be present.

2. Exploration of Values: One of the principles in ACT focuses on supporting clients to explore values in service of aligning them more actively with our behaviours. We do this in coaching as well where we support clients gain clarity about what truly matters to them, so that when they make choices and actions they are more in line with their authentic selves.

3. Distancing from Thoughts: ACT supports client notice their thoughts. In turn someone can potentially choose to distance themselves from unhelpful thoughts and create a healthier relationship with them. This does not necessarily mean changing a thought but perhaps ‘hold’ it in a different way. In coaching, this process supports clients in challenging limiting beliefs and fostering a more empowering mindset.

4. Experimentation with Behaviours: When working with ACT we gently encourage individuals to step out of their comfort zones. The aim of this is for clients to allow themselves to take meaningful action towards their goals. In coaching, this approach helps clients explore new possibilities, set realistic objectives, and develop actionable plans for growth.

5. Acceptance of Emotional Experience: There is something profound about acceptant emotions instead of fighting against them. ACT promotes acceptance of all emotions, even the uncomfortable ones. In coaching, fostering emotional acceptance enables your clients to acknowledge and navigate their emotions effectively, leading to greater self-compassion and resilience.

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