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Learning Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

The Essential Guide to the Process and Practice of Mindful Psychiatry

Debrin P. Goubert, M.D., Niklas Törneke, M.D., Robert Purssey, M.D., FRANZCP, Josephine Loftus, M.D., MRCPsych, Laura Weiss Roberts, M.D., M.A., and Kirk D. Strosahl, Ph.D.

  • ISBN 978-1-61537-173-0
  • Item #37173
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The traditional practice of psychiatry has been focused on reducing or eliminating distressing, unwanted symptoms. But what if the key to health and well-being is not to be symptom free, but rather to function effectively in life even when symptoms are present? What if symptoms serve an adaptive and motivational function, rather than being signals of a latent illness? What if the key to personal health is the ability to accept symptoms for what they are and to do what matters in life at the same time? This is the underlying proposition of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and this book—a collaboration among six clinicians from diverse practice backgrounds—is the first to systematically describe the principles and practices of ACT as they apply to psychiatric assessment, case analysis, and treatment.

The guide begins with an in-depth analysis of the ACT model, from its scientific origins in the study of the functions of human language to a fully elaborated model for clinical assessment and intervention and outlines the clinical benefits of ACT in everyday practice.

The second section of the book shows the reader how to conduct a streamlined assessment of the patient's life context, how to detect and intervene with the patient's unworkable emotional and behavioral avoidance strategies, and how to blend the use of medication treatment and behavioral interventions in a way that augments the beneficial effects of both approaches.

Chapter-length examples in the third section discuss how to deliver ACT in an ambulatory psychiatric setting, in a hospital consultation-liaison service, and in an inpatient psychiatric context. The section also includes a chapter examining the all-important issue of teaching ACT to psychiatric residents as well as affiliated health professionals working in medical or psychiatric treatment team contexts.

Learning Acceptance and Commitment Therapy uses a diverse array of case examples and clinical dialogues to offer readers a real-life view of the methodology in practice. Each chapter also includes additional reading resources to pursue should a particular theoretical or applied clinical concept create a desire to learn more. Additionally, readers have unlimited access to an online instructional library that includes video demonstrations of core ACT clinical strategies in action as well as a host of written practice support tools and worksheets.

This book is a must for clinicians who want to expand their ability to improve clinical outcomes for the wide range of patients seen in clinical practice.


  • Part I. What Is ACT?

  • Chapter 1. Letters From the Front Lines: The Benefits of ACT in Psychiatric Practice

  • Chapter 2.

    An Overview of ACT: From Basic Behavioral Science Foundations to a Model of Human Resilience
  • Part II. How to Do ACT

  • Chapter 3. The Practice of Functional Psychiatry

  • Chapter 4. The Dance of Change: How to Treat Your Patient With CARE

  • Chapter 5. ACT Dancing: Strategies for Mastering the Clinical Conversation

  • Chapter 6. The Art and Science of Functional Psychopharmacology
  • Part III. ACT in Practice

  • Chapter 7.

    ACT in Outpatient Psychiatric Practice
  • Chapter 8.

    ACT in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry
  • Chapter 9


    ACT in the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit
  • Chapter 10.

    Teaching ACT in Residency, Institutional, and Programmatic Settings
  • Index

About the Authors

Debrin P. Goubert, M.D. is a psychiatrist with Northwest Permanente/Kaiser Permanente NW in Clackamas, Oregon.

Niklas Torneke, M.D.
is a psychiatrist in private practice in Kopingsvik, Sweden.

Robert Purssey, M.D., FRANZCP, is the director of the Brisbane ACT Centre as w
ell as clinical senior lecturer with the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

Josephine Loftus, M.D., MRCPsych, is the head of the Mood Disorder Unit and Expert Bipolar Centre in the Department of Psychiatry at Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace in Monaco.

Laura Weiss Roberts, M.D., M.A., DLFAPA, FACLP, is chairman and Katharine Dexter McCormick and Stanley McCormick Memorial professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California.

Kirk D. Strosahl, Ph.D., is president of HeartMatters Consulting, LLC, in Wheeler Oregon.

Every psychiatrist, in every type of workplace, needs this book. It's a truly practical step-by-step guide to enriching and enhancing your clinical practice with acceptance and commitment therapy. It addresses the full range of biopsychosocial concerns that psychiatrists regularly deal with, through a simple but empowering transdiagnostic approach. If you want to help your patients live richer, fuller lives while effectively handling their painful thoughts, feelings, emotions and memories, you need this text!—Russ Harris, MBBS, Author of ACT Made Simple, and the international best-seller, The Happiness Trap

ACT is a notable and influential innovation in the psychotherapies - this accessible text provides a broad ranging and accessible grounding in ACT theory and techniques for psychiatrists, with access to media resources and including careful consideration of adaptation for specific psychiatric care settings. It should be valuable for practitioners working alongside others using ACT, referring to ACT practitioners, or to those wishing to make use of ACT principles in differing ways in their own practice. For psychiatry to remain engaged with wider mental health care, and properly effective, psychiatrists must take opportunities to inform themselves as psychotherapeutic techniques develop; in regard to ACT, this text is a valuable new resource.—Graham Meadows, FRANZCP. Monash University and the University of Melbourne

This book is essential reading and an indispensable addition for all psychiatrists wishing to enhance their knowledge and skills of ACT, a leading edge and novel psychological treatment. It is conveniently divided up into three sections, describing the background of ACT, its delivery and its application in clinical practice. Each chapter is clearly written, summarised and benefits from clinical examples detailing how an ACT approach may be used.

Particular strengths include an explanation of the difficult principles of relational frame theory, the problems associated with adherence to literal meaning of words and understanding the contextual nature of behaviors. The second section is a broad piece of work and includes a description of standard ACT processes, ways to help engage patients, and the use of advanced ACT methods. The chapter on how to promote willingness to consider medication as an adjunct to treatment is indispensable for the working psychiatrist. The third section fills the gap on how ACT may be applied to different clinical settings and how trainee psychiatrists may gain further expertise in ACT.
This whole package benefits from a collection of video clips. This work will become one of the basic ACT texts for clinical psychiatrists.—Marc Serfaty, Associate Professor, University College of London, and Consultant in Psychiatry

An important, timely and well-written resource for psychiatrists who would like to engage in or who engage in formal Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This text provides a clarity of conceptualization and a review of techniques that will prove extremely useful to psychiatric residents to seasoned practitioners in multiple clinical settings or clinical presentations.—Cheryl Chessick, M.D., DFAPA, Psychiatrist, NW Permanente

This is an exceptional resource for the psychiatrist wanting to learn acceptance and commitment therapy. I highly recommend it to psychiatrists and psychiatric residents interested in expanding their knowledge of this treatment. It provides well described examples to help the psychiatrist plan treatment in increasing one's toolbox in increasing outcomes in overall practice.—Alicia Kaplan M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Temple University SOM, Department of Psychiatry. Allegheny Health Network, Pittsburgh, PA.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) helps clients build flexibility and emotional resilience and has been life-changing for many people.  Learning Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: The Essential Guide to the Process and Practice of Mindful Psychiatry is a fantastic resource for learning ACT as well as how to practice ACT in flexible settings outside of the standard 50-minute psychotherapy hour.  This book is a powerful tool that presents useful case examples and Tips for Success that make it very easy to read and very clinically practical.—Daniel Bristow, M.D., FAPA Past President, Executive Council – Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association

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