Bruce is a Professor of General Practice and Primary Health Care at the University of Auckland New Zealand and a practising GP at Greenstone Family Clinic (https://greenstoneclinic.co.nz/) in Manurewa in South Auckland. He does regular general practice at that clinic and also does special consultations using Focused Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (FACT) for people who are feeling stuck in their lives by stress, pain or low energy. He does this work with his own patients and those referred from his clinic colleagues as well as for people outside of the clinic.
FACT is a new model of brief therapy that is a highly condensed version of a well-established longer-term treatment called acceptance and commitment therapy (Strosahl et al 2012). FACT uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies to help people transform their relationship with unwanted, distressing experiences, such as disturbing thoughts, unpleasant emotions, painful memories, or uncomfortable physical symptoms. FACT does not attempt to change the content of such private events; indeed it is efforts to change, suppress, eliminate, or control these events that FACT views as problematic-the attempts to make those changes becomes the problem in terms of anxiety and low mood. When people become preoccupied with managing these uncomfortable experiences they cannot attend to the immediate needs of their life situation. In effect they can become rigid, ineffective problem solvers. FACT teaches clients to instead simply observe and accept them to see emotions as just emotions, memories as just memories, thoughts as just thoughts, and sensations as just sensations.
A second feature of FACT is its emphasis on helping people connect with personal values and engage in committed actions that are consistent with those values. Instead of focusing on emotional control, FACT helps people focus on regaining a desired quality of life. Since we have no control over the arrival of uncomfortable internal experiences and unpleasant physical experiences that are often associated with them we must focus energy on what we can control i.e. our immediate behaviour. This may involve re-expanding the shrunken world that has become smaller in response to the distress. The term "commitment" in the name FACT refers to taking actions that are values-based flexible and ever expanding in scope.