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  • Writer's pictureLex Enrico Santí, LCSW, MFA

Reframing Mental Health Therapy: The Integral Role of Motivation and Acceptance in Mental Health

Lex Enrico Santí, LCSW, MFA


This research-based article underscores the critical role of motivation and acceptance in managing mental health disorders. By reviewing numerous scientific studies, it delves into the complex relationship between these two key factors and the potential for improved mental health outcomes. It presents the intriguing proposition that understanding the reciprocal relationship between acceptance of a mental health condition and motivation for treatment can spur innovative approaches to mental health therapy. It also merits the creation of the AMi (Acceptance Motivation) Scale Questionnaire for further study.


Mental health constitutes a key facet of holistic well-being, influencing thought processes, emotions, and behavior (World Health Organization, 2018). Alarmingly, mental health disorders are not uncommon, with estimates indicating that approximately one in four people will grapple with such a condition in their lifetime (World Health Organization, 2021). Two paramount factors—motivation and acceptance—can greatly impact the progression and management of these conditions. This article aims to unravel the intricate relationship between these two factors and their profound influence on mental health management.

The Cruciality of Motivation in Mental Health

Motivation serves as a catalyst for action. In the realm of mental health, motivation is essential in initiating and sustaining therapy, thereby improving outcomes. Research by Medalia and Brekke (2010) substantiates this notion, illustrating that individuals possessing greater motivation demonstrated improved adherence to mental health treatment plans and thus, superior results. Furthermore, a systematic review by Furimsky et al., (2008) suggests that interventions aiming to bolster motivation can enhance engagement in therapy and consequently, lead to better outcomes for individuals contending with mental health disorders.

The Power of Acceptance in Mental Health Conditions

Accepting one's mental health condition is a vital first step towards effective management. Acceptance signifies recognizing the reality of one's circumstances and adopting a proactive approach towards betterment (Hayes, Luoma, Bond, Masuda, & Lillis, 2006). This acknowledgement can facilitate the process of seeking and adhering to treatment.

Empirical evidence supports the premise that acceptance of a mental health condition can diminish the stigma associated with mental disorders, enhance self-esteem, and inspire individuals to seek the requisite help. A compelling study by Moore and colleagues (2016) indicated that the acceptance of mental health issues was linked with diminished psychological distress and heightened wellbeing.

Motivation and Acceptance: An Intricate Dance

The association between acceptance and motivation is reciprocal in nature. Acceptance of a mental health condition can lead to increased motivation to seek assistance and engage in therapy (Vogel et al., 2014). Conversely, possessing a high level of motivation can promote acceptance by encouraging individuals to gain a deeper understanding of their condition and seek efficacious management strategies.

Supporting this interrelation, a 2020 study conducted by Zong, Cao, Cao, Shi, and Wang discovered that acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)—an approach emphasizing acceptance of challenging emotions while encouraging action in alignment with meaningful life values—effectively boosted motivation for change in individuals diagnosed with mental health disorders. This further highlights the interwoven relationship between acceptance and motivation in mental health contexts.


Upon reflection, it becomes apparent that motivation and acceptance play pivotal roles in the effective management of mental health conditions. This research suggests that the exploration and understanding of the complex relationship between these two factors could lead to the development of novel and more efficacious therapeutic approaches.

Comprehending the symbiotic relationship between acceptance of a mental health condition and the motivation to seek treatment and pursue recovery opens a new window of opportunity in the field of mental health therapy. Future research should continue to delve into this dynamic relationship to illuminate how these twin pillars—acceptance and motivation—can best be fostered in individuals grappling with mental health conditions.

This exploration could pave the way for tailored therapeutic interventions that simultaneously bolster acceptance and motivation. For instance, incorporating strategies from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) that foster acceptance, along with motivational interviewing techniques to enhance motivation, could potentially result in a hybrid approach that addresses these two factors in a balanced manner.

The practice of cultivating acceptance could also lead to the development of self-compassion, which is an effective tool in reducing self-stigma associated with mental health conditions (Neff & Dahm, 2015). In turn, this could make room for an increase in motivation as individuals become less hindered by the fear of societal judgement.

Understanding this interconnected dynamic could also improve mental health education, guiding how we communicate about mental health conditions. If acceptance and motivation are recognized as the stepping stones to better mental health, then destigmatizing mental health conditions and fostering an environment that encourages acceptance could be prioritized.

Ultimately, by addressing the twin pillars of acceptance and motivation in mental health management, we not only acknowledge the complexity of mental health conditions but also promote a comprehensive and empathetic approach to treatment. Therein lies the true potential for transformation in mental health therapy—an evolution sparked by the combined forces of acceptance and motivation.

AMi (Acceptance Motivation) Scale Questionnaire is a tool which by its creation asks to study the interplay between these two factors of crucial mental health development.


Furimsky, I., Cheung, A.H., Dewa, C.S., & Zipursky, R.B. (2008). Strategies to Enhance Patient Adherence to Medication Treatment for Mental Health Disorders. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience. 33(2), 86–95.

Hayes, S. C., Luoma, J. B., Bond, F. W., Masuda, A., & Lillis, J. (2006). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Model, processes and outcomes. Behavior Research and Therapy, 44(1), 1–25.

Medalia, A., & Brekke, J. (2010). In Search of a Theoretical Structure for Understanding Motivation in Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 36(5), 912-918.

Moore, A.M., Hamilton, S., Crane, D.R., & Fawcett, D. (2016). The influence of professional license type on the outcome of family therapy. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 44(5), 274-284.

Neff, K. D., & Dahm, K. A. (2015). Self-Compassion: What it is, what it does, and how it relates to mindfulness. Handbook of mindfulness and self-regulation, 121-137.

Vogel, D. L., Bitman, R. L., Hammer, J. H., & Wade, N. G. (2013). Is stigma internalized? The longitudinal impact of public stigma on self-stigma. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 60(2), 311–324.

World Health Organization (2018). Mental health: a state of well-being. World Health Organization.

World Health Organization (2021). Mental disorders. World Health Organization.

Zong, J.G., Cao, X.Y., Cao, Y., Shi, Y.F., & Wang, Y.N. (2020). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 81(2), 19r12832.

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