Using ACT with flexibility

Using ACT with flexibility: An Intermediate workshop

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a newer type of CBT focused specifically on developing a quality called ‘psychological flexibility’, has become popular over the last few years among clinical psychologists. Many now use ACT methods and ACT metaphors within their routine clinical practice. ACT comprises a rich and diverse set of intervention techniques and principles that can be applied trans-diagnostically.


This workshop, I hope, will help attendees to move beyond a foundational ACT skill-set (i.e spotting PF processes and using specific ACT exercises), towards also using the therapeutic relationship and conversation to apply ACT with greater fluency and flexibility.

The workshop will include practicing:

  1. Taking an ACT stance: Making practical use of the key principles underlying psychological flexibility, such as Functional Contextualism and Relational Frame Theory.
  2. Effectively transitioning within conversation from focusing on one psychological flexibility process to another.
  3. Enhancing self-compassion or kinder self-to-self relationships within an ACT framework by, for example, making use of deictic and coordination framing.

It is my experience that once one has gotten to grips with the ACT stance, then it becomes easier effectively to make use of methods that are traditionally used within other psychological therapies (CBT, CFT, CAT etc.) to enhance psychological flexibility.  The workshop will be focused on the practical application of theory. It will therefore involve role-plays and demonstrations.


Chris Graham is a clinical psychologist, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology and Academic Director of the clinical psychology training programme at Queen’s University Belfast. He formerly was a “Great Minds” Fellow at the University of Leeds. Here he established a research programme – funded by NIHR, and charities – trialling ACT for improving outcomes in a number of clinical contexts: improving quality of life in several chronic diseases (motor neurone disease, breast cancer, muscle disorders); reducing burnout in NHS practitioners; reducing self-harm in people who repeatedly self-harm. Prior to this he completed a professional doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD  - developing an ACT intervention for people living with muscular dystrophy - at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London. His clinical work has mostly involved helping people to live well with neurological conditions.

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