Radical Acceptance

Senior woman looks thoughtfully at the cameraRadical acceptance is a term used to characterize several different—but closely-related—concepts in psychology. At its heart, radical acceptance is about accepting experiences, beliefs, and perceptions, often without offering judgments or believing that things should be different than they are.

Radical Acceptance in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Radical acceptance is an important component of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), a therapeutic approach that is sometimes used to treat people coping with borderline personality. DBT aims to help people cope with overpowering emotions, and involves several specific elements, including increasing mindfulness, improving distress tolerance, regulating emotions, and developing stronger social skills and interpersonal effectiveness. In DBT, radical acceptance involves accepting life’s setbacks and joys for what they are rather than wishing for something different. Its aim is to help people tolerate stress and stop fighting frustrating circumstances.

Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance is a book published by Tara Brach that aims to incorporate elements of Buddhist teachings and psychotherapy. The book advocates abandoning feelings of unworthiness and accepting oneself unconditionally. Brach argues that radical acceptance can be used to treat a variety of problems, but focuses specifically on trauma, emphasizing that accepting life’s setbacks can help people move beyond them rather than being perpetually damaged by them.

Radical Acceptance and Political Usage

Radical acceptance is sometimes used in a political context to denote a willingness to accept all people tolerantly and without judgment. A person practicing radical acceptance would avoid judging a person for his or her size, income, race, beliefs, religion, and other classifications. People practicing radical acceptance focus on treating people as individuals with their own unique stories.


  1. Brach, T. (2003). Radical acceptance: Embracing your life with the heart of a Buddha. New York, NY: Bantam Books.
  2. Radical Acceptance. (n.d.). DBT Self Help. Retrieved from http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/html/radical_acceptance.html

Last Updated: 08-20-2015

  • Leave a Comment
  • Andy

    May 6th, 2020 at 9:27 AM

    I really need help accepting certain situations that are unfolding in my life

  • The GoodTherapy Team

    May 6th, 2020 at 1:23 PM

    Thank you Andy for reading and for reaching out! If you’d like to connect with a therapist or counselor who can help, you can search for and contact a professional near you, here: https://www.goodtherapy.org/find-therapist.html
    Best wishes to you as you cope with the situations in your life.

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