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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is one of the ‘third wave’ cognitive and behavioral therapies. It incorporates acceptance and mindfulness strategies alongside change strategies, in recognition that change is not always possible or desirable. ACT is theoretically derived from relational frame theory (RFT) which is a behavior analytic account of the functional properties of human language. The ACT approach proposes that suffering and dysfunction arise from attempts to control or eliminate unwanted experiences. Attempts to control or avoid can lead to the paradoxical effect of greater suffering and a perception of loss of control of the focus for elimination. The aim of ACT is to increase psychological flexibility, which is defined as “contacting the present moment fully as a conscious human being, and based on what the situation affords, changing or persisting in behavior in the service of chosen values” (Hayes, Luoma, Bond, Masuda, & Lillis, 2006). Read more
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Resource type


Therapy tool

A Guide To Emotions (Psychology Tools For Living Well)

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help your clients to live happier and more fulfilling lives. Psychology Tools for Living Well is a self-help course ...


Developing Psychological Flexibility

Developing Psychological Flexibility is a client information handout which can be used to familiarize clients with the ACT model. ...

Information Handout

How Does Emotion Affect Your Life?

By encouraging your clients to reflect upon the role of emotions in their life you can help them to discuss current difficulties. ...


Mindful Attention (Audio)

Mindful Attention is a technique for becoming aware of one’s thoughts and experiences, and being able to observe these as transient mental events. ...


Psychology Tools For Mindfulness Audio Collection

The Psychology Tools For Mindfulness Audio Collection is the perfect way to introduce your clients to the practice of mindfulness. Developed by a clin ...

Audio Collection

Understanding Health Anxiety

Our ‘Understanding…’ series is a collection of psychoeducation guides for common mental health conditions. Friendly and explanatory, they are co ...



Meaningful activity is value-driven. This ACT-informed worksheet explores the key domains of values and encourages clients to reflect upon what is imp ...


What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness meditation is a traditional Buddhist practice. It is now commonly taught as a practice helpful in the management of a variety of mental he ...

Information Handout

Case Conceptualization / Case Formulation


Treatment guides

Information handouts

Exercises, Worksheets & Workbooks

  • Worksheets from the Happiness Trap including Values, Defusion, and Experiential Avoidance exercises  download
  • 6 ACT conversations is a six-session e-learning program from RMIT University  Link to 6 ACT conversations
  • Pre-empting your mind | Russ Harris  download  archived copy



  • Animation: Demons on the Boat metaphor – which outlines how an alternative, more accepting stance towards difficult thoughts, emotions or sensations can facilitate action towards values  YouTube
  • Animation: Unwelcome Party Guest metaphor – similar to the Demons on the Boat metaphor, but highlights the cost (in terms of lack valued action) of avoidance of negative or unwanted emotions  YouTube

Recommended Reading

  • Cullen, C. (2008). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): A third-wave behaviour therapy. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 36(6), 667 download
  • Harris, R. (2006). Embracing your demons: An overview of acceptance and commitment therapy. Psychotherapy in Australia, 12(4), 2-8 download
  • Hayes, S. C., Pistorello, J., & Levin, M. E. (2012). Acceptance and commitment therapy as a unified model of behavior change. The Counseling Psychologist, 40(7), 976-1002 download
  • Larmar, S., Wiatrowski, S., & Lewis-Driver, S. (2014). Acceptance & Commitment Therapy: An Overview of Techniques and Applications. Journal of Service Science and Management, 7(3), 216 download

What Is Acceptance And Commitment Therapy?

ACT Processes

Luoma, Hayes, and Walser (2007) describe some of the assumptions made by the ACT approach:

  • Acceptance is the active and aware embrace of private events that are occasioned by our history, without unnecessary attempts to change their frequency or form, especially when doing so would cause psychological harm.
  • Defusion is theprocess of creating non-literal contexts in which language can be seen as an active, ongoing, and relational process that is historical in nature and present in the current context.
  • Self-as-context is a continuous and secure ‘I’ from which events are experienced, but which is also distinct from those events.
  • Contact with the present moment is an ongoing, nonjudgmental contact with psychological and environmental events as they occur.
  • Values are verbally constructed, global, desired, and chosen life directions.Values are what truly matter to us and are distinct from goals in that they cannot be ‘achieved’ butrather ‘moved toward or away from.’
  • Committed action is the step-by-step process of acting to create a whole life, one of integrity, which is true to one’s deepest wishes and longings.


  • Hayes, S. C., Luoma, J. B., Bond, F. W., Masuda, A., & Lillis, J. (2006). Acceptance and commitment therapy: Model, processes and outcomes. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(1), 1–25.
  • Luoma, J. B., Hayes, S. C., & Walser, R. D. (2007). Learning ACT: An acceptance & commitment therapy skills-training manual for therapists. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.