Radical Acceptance

One of the most powerful and difficult concepts to integrate is based in the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy model. Radical acceptance is about embracing life as it is and saying YES to the reality we are in. Although this may sound simplistic taking a radical acceptance approach can take a great deal of practice and can be extremely rewarding.

Radical acceptance is complete and total acceptance, from deep within, of the facts of reality. It involves acknowledging facts that are true and letting go of a fight with reality. Acceptance is often misunderstood as approval (it is not) or as being against change (it is not).

Marsha Linehan, DBT Skills Training Manual

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Toronto

What’s the Difference Between Acceptance and Radical Acceptance?


  • Acknowledging or recognizing facts that are true; conceding the facts
  • Letting go of fighting your reality (and maybe being upset about it)

Radical Acceptance

  • Accepting all the way, with your mind, your heart, and your body
  • Accepting something from the depths of your soul
  • Opening yourself to fully experiencing reality as it is in this moment

Why Practice Radical Acceptance?

We cannot avoid pain as human beings however we can choose how we respond to the pain. By accepting this moment and not rejecting reality we can reduce suffering and embrace freedom. Radical acceptance can be a particularly useful skill during moments of distress. I have seen folks in therapy effectively use this concept to help them through betrayal trauma, anxiety, depression, and life transitions.

How to Start a Practice of Radical Acceptance

Although there are many ways to practice radical acceptance it can be helpful to look at two steps that may help you get started:

  1. Observe that you are questioning or fighting reality
  2. Remind yourself that reality is just as it is
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How Can Radical Acceptance be Useful in the Counselling Experience?

Rejecting or denying reality does not change reality, and changing somethings first requires you to accept what is. For example if you have been diagnosed with an illness and refuse to accept this reality it does not change that the illness is still present and may lead you to not take care of yourself.  When engaging in therapy it can be useful to practice radical acceptance as it positions you in a place where change is possible, along with the ability to cultivate more peace.

If you’re finding radical acceptance confusing concept please know that you are not alone, this framework can be particularly difficult to integrate. I have seen the transformative and freeing power of radical acceptance in both my life and the clients I work with.

If you would like to discuss radical acceptance further or you are looking for therapy in Toronto please contact me and I would be happy to set up a free 20 minute phone call session. I respond to emails and direct messages regularly and would be happy to engage in conversation about radical acceptance and therapeutic options.