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Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for anxiety disorders – An experiential approach to treating anxiety

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness- and acceptance-based intervention model for a wide variety of problems. ACT has been studied extensively with anxiety disorders, including related disorders such as OCD, and it has been shown to be as effective as CBT. ACT encourages clients and clinicians to open up to their experience, make space for discomfort and commit to actions tied to personally-chosen values.

Imagine your client with social anxiety leaning in to social situations while practicing self-compassion and mindfulness of emotion – or your client with panic attacks willingly embracing the sensations of panic as they arise – or your client with OCD letting go of rituals while they get curious about the discomfort that arises. ACT frames exposure practices like these as opportunities to practice being psychologically flexible: open, aware, and active in the presence of what usually leads to fear and escape.

Learning objectives:

  • Be able to describe the psychological flexibility model underlying ACT
  • Be able to identify one to two techniques for facilitating the six psychological flexibility practices with their clients: acceptance, defusion, present moment awareness, self-as-context, values, and committed action
  • Learn how to adapt exposure practices, in vivo exposure, imaginal exposure, and interoceptive exposure, to fit within an ACT framework