ACT:  Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a behavioral therapy based built upon over 30 years worth of research on human language and behavior. Used along with a functional approach to treating your child’s behavior, ACT is a very effective as a therapy for children and teens with anxiety, depression, and a variety of other conditions.


ACT teaches us how to have a new perspective to our upsetting and difficult thoughts and feelings. It helps make thoughts and feelings that are upsetting or unhelpful less powerful and therefore less likely to hold us back from things that are important to us.

ACT teaches strategies such as mindfulness and goals setting through interactive activities and discussions.


Elisa’s Training in ACT:

       Master of Science Degree in Behavior Analysis and Therapy and Board Certified as a Behavior Analyst.

Trained at Southern Illinois University in ACT and Verbal Behavior by Dr. Mark Dixon who is recognized as one of the most skilled programmers of behavior analysis research and data collection systems worldwide.

Completed thesis (with Dr. Mark Dixon) showing the beneficial effects of ACT on the problem behaviors of children on the autism spectrum.

Trained in ACT at an intensive 4-day workshop by world leaders in ACT including Dr. Steven Hayes. Dr. Hayes, one of the developers of ACT and the author of over 600 scientific articles, 40 books. Dr. Hayes has also been featured in a variety of popular publications such as Time Magazine and Oprah.


What would this therapy look like with my child?

Your Behavior Analyst would personally select ACT activities for your child and train you and your Behavior Interventionist on how to implement the activities. ACT lessons could be done your child would occur during their typical ABA sessions or can be done by parents a couple of times a week when you have some free time. Activities generally include short experiments, discussions, crafts, or games that take between 5 and 15 minutes to do. There is a lot of flexibility in how and when you can do these exercises. Your Behavior Consultant can help you figure out how best to incorporate these lessons so they are the best fit for you child and family.


Can ACT be used for people who have autism?

Yes! As long as your child is verbal ACT can be adapted to be used with them in some way. Many of the areas that people on the spectrum struggle with such as difficulty transitioning and perseverating on past events or specific topics can really benefit from ACT. There is a lot of room for creativity on the part of the child in ACT therapy and this allows the child’s interests and own ideas to be incorporated into most exercises.

What are the components of ACT?

 There are 6 components of ACT and they all work together to increase what is called psychological flexibility. The exercises your child does with ACT will usually focus on one or two of the components at a time and future exercises build upon what was previously learned. The 6 components are:

        1. Acceptance                                           

        2. Defusion                                             

        3. Present Moment Awareness          

 4. Self as Contex

 5. Values

 6. Committed Action

Where can I learn more about ACT?

Free video presentation from the National Autism Conference – “Act Training for Parents” by Dr. Mark Dixon 

There are many great books on ACT such as:

o   The Happiness Trap by Dr. Russ Harris (autism parent, doctor and best-selling author)

o   Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life by Dr. Steven Hayes

o   ACT for Children with Autism and Emotional Challenges by Dr. Mark Dixon.

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