Dr. Steven C. Hayes

Integrating ACT into Your Clinical Practice


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is one of the most studied and popular approaches in modern “third wave” CBT. A distinguishing feature of ACT is the empirical strength and breadth of application of its underlying “psychological flexibility model.” That model, and the processes it focuses on, makes it possible to explore bits and pieces of ACT for particular clients in a coherent way, without having to overturn the way you currently practice.

 Psychological inflexibility is characterized by avoiding experiences, taking thoughts literally, buying into self-stories, and becoming entangled in the conceptualized past or future, while missing the opportunity to build larger patterns of meaningful action. These inflexibility processes are driven by positive human motives – yearning for belonging, feeling, competence, self-direction, orientation, and coherence – but they all provide only short-term benefits, thwarting their long-term achievement. Research suggest that the six primary psychological flexibility processes – experiential acceptance, cognitive defusion, flexible attention to the now, fostering a perspective taking sense of self, values, and committed action – predict improvement in virtually any area of human psychological functioning.

 In this workshop, Dr. Steven C. Hayes, who has been guiding ACT`s development for 35 years and is internationally recognized for his contributions, will show how to apply ACT and the psychological flexibility model to your clinical practice, integrating its ideas and methods into the work you do now.

Participants in this workshop will 1) learn the processes that comprise the psychological flexibility model, 2) explore these processes personally, 3) learn and practice useful clinical techniques based on each key aspect of the model, and 4) leave knowing how they can use these concepts and techniques to augment and empower their own clinical work.

This workshop assumes only that you are interested in ACT and would like see if some of its ideas and methods can empower your work. The workshop assumes no prior experience with ACT or related methods.

 During Day 1, Dr. Hayes will provide a comprehensive understanding of psychological flexibility model. He will describe the six inflexibility processes and how they contribute to psychopathology, thwarting deep human yearnings, and how each of these can be transformed into flexibility processes that satisfy those underlying needs. Therapists can use this model to formulate cases and develop powerful, individualized treatment interventions that take advantage of the best of a variety of clinical traditions. Case demonstrations will give participants a `moment-by-moment` sense of ACT in action.

On Day 2, participants will learn more about the ACT model and how it can help them make their own systems of therapy more effective.  Topics will include the strategic use of accepting acceptance, recognizing language traps and other rigid patterns that can hurt rather than help, coming consciously into the now in a way that is flexible, fluid, and voluntary, and focus on values and committed action. Through demonstration and practice Dr. Hayes will help you see how to apply these elements of the psychological flexibility model and to mix it with clinical methods you already know and care about.


Learning objectives


At the end of this workshop, attendees will be able to

 Objective #1 Describe the six processes that underlie psychological flexibility

Objective #2 Formulate common clinical problems using a psychological flexibility model

Objective #3 Detect major signs of cognitive fusion in clients

Objective #4 Demonstrate at least two defusion skills or methods

Objective #5 Detect major signs of experiential avoidance in clients

Objective #6 Demonstrate at least two acceptance skills or methods

Objective #7 Demonstrate at least two skills or methods designed to increase attentional flexibility and the ability to contact the present moment in a way that is flexible, fluent, and voluntary

Objective #8 Detect major signs of poor perspective-taking skills in clients

Objective #9 Demonstrate at least two skills or methods designed to increase perspective-taking

Objective #10 Detect major signs of fused, avoidant or compliant “values” in clients

Objective #11 Distinguish between goals and values as specified in an ACT model

Objective #12 Demonstrate at least two values construction skills or methods

Objective #13 Detect major signs of poor ability to engage in committed action in clients

Objective #14 Describe the consensus model underlying most 3rd wave interventions

Objective #15 Describe the state of ACT as an evidence-based treatment

Objective #18 Link the psychological flexibility model to the therapeutic relationship


Day 1 – Introduction to the Psychological Flexibility Model

 Morning session (with 15-minute morning break)

 ACT in a Nutshell

 The Mental Myths that Trap Us and Thwart Our Deepest Yearnings

 How the Modern World Feeds these Myths

 The Processes of Psychological Liberation: Open, Aware, and Engaged


 Afternoon session (with 15 minute break)

 Defusion and acceptance methods

 Sense of self and the now

 Values and commitment methods

 An ACT session


 Day 2 – Clinical Methods in Applying the Psychological Flexibility Model


Morning session  (with 15 minute morning break)

 Case Conceptualization

 Rapidly-exploring psychological flexibility/inflexibility

 Reading Flexibility Processes

 Accepting Acceptance

 Creating a Contract Without the Trap Built In


 Afternoon session (with 15 minute break)

 Practice in applying the model

 Being able to take therapy in any of the flexibility directions

 Integrating ACT ideas with other traditions

 Case demonstration