Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. This program has been rated by the CEBC in the following Topic Areas:

1  — Well-Supported by Research Evidence
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About This Program

Target Population: Adults with depression; has also been used with adults with a variety of other mental health disorders and behavioral problems

Brief Description

ACT is a contextually focused form of cognitive behavioral psychotherapy that uses mindfulness and behavioral activation to increase a client’s psychological flexibility—his/her ability to engage in values-based, positive behaviors while experiencing difficult thoughts, emotions, or sensations. ACT establishes this through six core processes: Acceptance of private experiences; cognitive defusion (i.e., alter the undesirable functions of thoughts and other private events); being present, a perspective-taking sense of self; identification of values; and commitment to action. The first four processes define the ACT approach to mindfulness, and the last two define the ACT approach to behavioral activation.

ACT is delivered to clients in one-on-one sessions, in small groups or larger workshops, or in books or other media, through the presentation of information, dialogue, and the use of metaphors, visualization exercises, and behavioral homework. The number, frequency, and length of the sessions and overall duration of the intervention can vary depending on the needs of the client or treatment provider.

Program Goals:

The overall goals of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are:

  • Produce psychological flexibility: the ability to embrace one's thoughts and feelings as they are and shift attention toward chosen values and actions linked to those values
  • Reduce psychopathology
  • Increase work performance
  • Increase physical health
  • Increase quality of life

Contact Information

Agency/Affiliation: Association for Contextual Behavioral Science

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: July 2017

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: May 2017

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: December 2013