Acceptance and Commitment Therapyhow can this help if I have a new or long-term physical health condition?

Anyone living with a newly diagnosed or long-term physical health condition is likely to be familiar with the difficulties that this can bring and how life can change in a multitude of different ways. We may experience feelings of loss or grief for the life that we thought we would have and for some of the hopes that we had for the future. Thinking ahead may cause anxiety, stress or fear. We may feel that life is now out of our control or hopeless, especially if we feel that there is nothing that we can do to change things. Feelings of distress can filter into every area of our lives, impact our relationships and affect our enjoyment of the things that matter most to us in our lives.

On top of this, anyone dealing with a physical health condition will know that managing the condition itself requires time and energy that already feels stretched. The mental load of organising appointments, scheduling time for treatments, figuring out who we should contact when a problem arises and navigating our way through the healthcare system can feel overwhelming. This can feel difficult at the best of times, let alone if we are experiencing ongoing pain or fatigue or dealing with an extra challenge such as a flare up of symptoms. The impact of this can make a difficult time feel even more challenging.

It is a natural response to challenging circumstances to have feelings of worry, anxiety and low mood and often people feel caught up in negative cycles of thinking which can then in turn affect their behaviours, mood and general day-to-day life. However, it is possible for us to change how we relate to these inner thoughts and feelings and to engage with our lives in a different way. ‘Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’ (ACT) is a psychological model that can help us to do just that!

The power of ‘acceptance’

It can be exhausting trying to control things that are not actually within our control in the first place and the ACT model encourages us to loosen our grip on this internal battle and allow ourselves to experience a greater feeling of inner peace and freedom from troublesome thoughts and feelings. Challenging times and distressing feelings will be a natural part of our experience, but we can approach them differently and lean into some of the discomfort and uncertainty that they bring.

The empowerment of ‘commitment’

Commitment is about reflecting on our personal values (what really ‘matters’ to us) and identifying ways in which we can align ourselves with these, despite any limitations that a long-term health condition may bring. It allows us to move forward in life with clearer intention and brings us closer to the type of life that feels meaningful to us and that we wish to live.

A new programme developed by the Fitzrovia Psychology Clinic

The Fitzrovia Psychology Clinic is pleased to announce that we are offering an ACT group programme which has been specially designed for individuals who are living with a new or long-term physical health condition. Each 2-hour session will be delivered over a course of 10 weeks and will be facilitated by two of our expert Clinical Psychologists, who have years of experience in the field of Clinical Health. Research has shown that group sessions are particularly powerful for delivering ACT therapy, as individuals can inspire and learn from one another’s unique experiences.

Next steps and how we can support you

If you are interested in finding out more information about the ACT group programme, please contact us by phone on 0208 012 8344 or email at We can provide you with a free telephone consultation to explore how the group programme may be able to support you and discuss the next steps.

Written by Dr Christopher Bonner and Dr Jonathan Davidson, Associate Clinical Psychologists in The Fitzrovia Psychology Clinic’s Health Psychology Team.