An experiential day: Introduction to Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

This workshop - a short day course as it is - offers an experiential introduction to the ACT model; participants will be asked to bring their own issues of stuckness, suffering, psychological inflexibility and run them through the the ‘lens’ of the 6 core processes of ACT - thereby learning more about themselves through learning about the ACT model. This style of experiential involvement is considered vital in the ACT learning community.

09:00 - 9:30 registration and refreshments
09:30 - start
12:30 - 13:00 lunch (provided)
16:30-45 - close


How does the very nature of human language lead to suffering? How can a person commit to living a vital and more meaningful life right now, in spite of emotional or physical pain barriers? Developed within a coherent theoretical and philosophical framework, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a unique empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behaviour change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility means contacting the present moment fully as a conscious human being, and based on what the situation affords, and changing or persisting in behaviour in the service of chosen values.

In the last 5 years there has been an enormous swell of interest in the clinical application of mindfulness based approaches - and particularly from within the evidence-based school of cognitive behavioural therapy where Mindfulness Based Applications, MBA’s, and specifically ACT, have become known collectively as ‘third wave cognitive behavioural therapy’. And there have, of course, been previous waves of interest in other schools of therapy eg: Jung, from the psychodynamic school, Perls & Assagioli, from humanistic and transpersonal schools.

ACT is developing a convincing and burgeoning evidence-base; it has a broad, trans-diagnostic application and it is less a collection of techniques, more a way of working which a practitioner can adapt to suit their own style. Hence, although ACT is firmly positioned within the behavioural tradition - indeed, Relational Frame theory, RFT, (which underpins the ACT approach) is a post Skinnerian account of language acquisition - the emphasis upon authenticity and working at relational depth on such existential themes as values, meaning and purpose make the ACT approach an ideal vehicle for integrative therapy.

Psychological theory underpinning the workshop:
The four noble truths: the Buddha, circa -500 … (interpreted, Wilks,2010)

  • to be human is to experience psychological unsatisfactoriness (dukka)
  • dukka has a (twin) cause: clinging to that which is considered desirable, and avoiding or shrinking from that which is considered unacceptable
  • to be free from suffering is to have extinguished the dual reactivities described in 2
  • there is a path of practice, a lifestyle recommended to achieve 3 , known as the noble eightfold path: right mindfulness is one of the 8 components of this path.

These 4 noble truths became the basis for the Abidhamma, the highly sophisticated school of Buddhist Psychology which Goleman, D writes about in "Varieties of meditative experience" From the same book comes a most apposite quote: "Consciousness is the medium which carries the messages which compose experience. Psychotherapies are concerned with these messages and their meanings; meditation instead directs itself to the nature of the medium, consciousness. These two approaches are by no means mutually exclusive; rather, they are complementary. A therapy of the future may integrate techniques from both approaches, possibly producing a change in the whole person more thoroughgoing and more potent than either in isolation" (Varieties of Meditative Experience,1988)

Relational Frame theory, Hayes, S. C., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Roche, B. (Eds.). (2001)

Please see Blackledge, 2003 as pre-workshop reading
Philosophical Roots: Functional Contextualism

Learning outcomes and objectives

  • An experiential introduction to approaching greater psychological flexibility
  • Introduction to the 6 core processes in ACT practice, often described via a hexa-flex
  • Using tools for personalised case-formulation
  • Hands on experience of facilitating others’ psychological flexibility via ACT processes

Facilitator: Henry J. Whitfield MSc (CBT/REBT) MBACP, Accredited Advanced TIR trainer (TIRA)

Henry’s research interests include the theoretical and practical integration of mindfulness with cognitive behavioural theories, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy processes and in case-formulated applications of mindfulness. After 4 years as a trauma specialist and supervisor for Victim Support Lambeth, Henry is now conducting empirical research for City and Hackney Mind, investigating the process of values within different approaches to trauma counselling. He also works in private pratice, and teaches widely on the subject of Mindfulness-consistent therapies. He has been training counsellors/psychotherapists since 2004 teaching courses on a monthly basis for seven years. He is experienced as a trainer of REBT, CBT, TIR and ACT. He has also completed a formal training qualification in TIR (Advanced TIR trainer). He also has been running supervision groups regularly since 2005.

Booking Information

Target audience

Clinicians who are either considering, or currently delivering clinical interventions via the Acceptance & Commitment therapy model.

Pre/post-course work

Please note: Delegates are asked to do some pre-workshop preparation.

Workshop fee

BPS Members £130 (+VAT)
Non-BPS Members £195 (+VAT)

How to book

To register for this workshop online, please go to the BPS Shop

To pay by cheque or invoice complete and return the registration form 



Society's London Office

30 Tabernacle Street



Fri, 28/10/2011 -
09:00 to 16:45
BPS Learning Centre