Acceptance and Commitment Therapy SIG

Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Louise McHugh – A Bottom Up RFT approach to the Self and Mindfulness – March 2014 London ACT Networking event

In Community, London Network, Relational Frame Theory on February 5, 2014 at 7:52 pm

BABCP ACT SIG and University College London

London ACT Networking Event, Friday 21 March 2014, 2 – 5pm

louise mchugh imageThe self is a concept that is widespread in modern psychology and has played either a central or supporting explanatory role in several major theoretical approaches to human behaviour including psychodynamics, humanism and positive psychology. Despite the popularity of ‘self’ as an explanatory concept within these approaches, however, it has arguably remained ill-defined in operational terms. Recently, however, a strand of behavioural psychology, namely Contextual Behavioral Science (CBS), has emerged that has begun to provide an account of human language and cognition characterised by precision, scope and depth. From this perspective only humans have a sense of self. This is because only humans have language. In order to have a sense of self, a creature must be a language-user and only humans are language users. So what is language and what does it mean to be a language user? The current talk will address these questions and demonstrate to the audience why the CBS approach to the self has important implications for training socially important skills such as perspective taking, self compassion and mindfulness.

About the speaker:      Dr Louise McHugh BSc MA PhD

Louise’s research interests are centered on the experimental analysis of language and cognition from a behaviour analytic and Relational Frame Theory perspective, including especially the development of complex cognitive skills such as as perspective-taking and the process-level investigation of behavioural and cognitive psychotherapies including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She has published over 40 papers on these topics and has received funding from several sources including the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Waterloo Trust and the Welsh Assembly. Most recently she was awarded a European Marie Curie career integration award to join the faculty at UCD.

A faculty member at University College Dublin (UCD) in Ireland, Louise McHugh is not only a world authority on RFT (Relational Frame Theory – the theory of language and cognition that underlies ACT) but also a dynamic and entertaining presenter. Louise is editor and co-author of the newly published textbook ‘The Self And Perspective Taking’, and her ground-breaking work in the use of RFT to help autistic children develop theory of mind and empathy is now being employed by state-of-the-art ABA programs around the world.

RSVP via Eventbrite:



Archaeology Lecture Theatre (G6)

Institute of Archaeology
University College London
31-34 Gordon Square
London WC1H 0PY

The Archaeology Lecture Theatre (G6) is located on the ground floor of the Institute building, through the A.G. Leventis Gallery of Cypriot and Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology.


Register your interest: 2nd UK & Ireland ACT/ CBS Conference, Dublin October 2014

In Community on February 4, 2014 at 8:18 am

Help us make the second UK & Ireland ACT/ Contextual Behavioural Science a success!

The BABCP ACT Special Interest Group and ACBS UK & Ireland Chapter are planning to host the second ACT/Contextual Behavioural Science conference in Dublin mid October 2014. The conference will be held over two days, with an additional one day of pre-conference workshops.

We are in the process of organising international trainers for pre-conference workshops, and we will be hosting ACT and RFT researchers and practitioners from Ireland and Europe. This conference will be the major local opportunity this year for those interested in contextual behavioural science in the UK & Ireland to hear the latest research, share ideas and practice, and meet fellow travellers.

To help us with planning we are looking to gauge interest from the ACT, RFT and CBT communities. If you would be interested in attending this conference, please contact us on the email address below and we will update you as we progress. Having a sense of your interest will help us to plan the best possible conference.

Register your interest here:

Conference Organising Committee

ACT for Weight Management, London networking event, UCL 9 August 2013

In Community, London Network on June 23, 2013 at 2:50 pm

BABCP ACT SIG and University College London

London ACT Networking Event, Friday 9 August 2013, 2 – 4pm


ACT for weight management

Dr Matt Wardley

There has been a recent growth in the use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for individuals with weight-related issues. This is supported by an increasing number of empirical studies indicating the effectiveness of ACT as an evidence-based approach for this client group.

This event explores the use of ACT in both individual and group settings for this population. We will look specifically at the rationale for ACT in weight management, ACT case conceptualisation for weight management,and the use of the ACT processes/exercises.

We will explore acceptance and defusion strategies (such as mindful eating, urge surfing and focusing on body image issues) to help people change their relationship with food and weight-related thoughts and feelings. This will be combined with addressing and clarifying values in the context of weight loss goals as well as developing ongoing values-directed action.

The group will be interactive in nature and will invite attendees to engage in discussion and experiential exercises.

About the Speaker

Dr Matt Wardley is a counselling psychologist working a NHS-based multidisciplinary Diabetes Service within Barking & Dagenham. He completed his DPsych at City University, London following a previous career as an IT Consultant.

A significant proportion of his work within the Diabetes Service is helping individuals manage their weight due to its significant impact on their diabetes management. Matt runs a 12-week weight management programme as well as working individually using an ACT approach. He previously worked in a Renal Service within an outpatient and inpatient hospital setting, where weight management also plays a significant role across the disease pathway.

Having conducted doctoral research investigating psychological therapists’ lived experience of ACT-based wellbeing training within the workplace, he has become interested in the process of delivering ACT in group settings and in training therapists in ACT. He recently presented his research at the ACBS World Conference in Washington D.C.

The event is free. We welcome all those with an interest in ACT to attend (BABCP members and non-members are welcome).

Please RSVP to give us a sense of the numbers for the afternoon:

Location: Central London

Pearson (North East Entrance) Lecture Theatre,

Pearson Building, Gower Street,


Directions: The nearest tube stations are Euston Square and Warren Street.

A map of the campus is here:


Matt Wardley ACT

The slides from the presentation are available:  ACT Networking Event – Weight Management – v.3

And a recording of the talk is here

ACT for Insomnia – London networking event, May 3 2013, UCL

In Community, London Network on April 4, 2013 at 10:58 pm

BABCP ACT Special Interest Group & University College London

London ACT networking event

Friday 3 May 2 – 4pm, UCL  (one hour talk + discussion)


ACT for Insomnia – Dr Guy Meadows, The Sleep School

The Sleep School

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) offers a unique and gentle non-drug based approach to overcoming chronic insomnia. It seeks to increase people’s willingness to experience the conditioned physiological and psychological discomfort commonly associated with not sleeping.

Such acceptance paradoxically acts to lessen the brains level of nocturnal arousal, thus encouraging a state of rest and sleepiness, rather than struggle and wakefulness. Additional focus on valued driven behaviour also acts to avert unhelpful patterns of experiential avoidance and promote the ideal safe environment from which good quality sleep can emerge.

The application and merits for using ACT approaches such as acceptance and willingness, mindfulness and defusion and values and committed action for the treatment of chronic insomnia are discussed and compared to the traditional cognitive behavioural strategies.

The Speaker: Small_guyprofile

Dr Guy Meadows has been studying human physiology for 15 years of which 10 years has been devoted to sleep research and the prevention of sleep disorders.

He graduated with a first class BSc Honours degree from Glamorgan University, then an MsC (Distinction) at Kings College London in Human and Applied Physiology and finally completed his doctorate at Imperial College London. Whilst studying there he worked in the sleep research laboratories of the Royal Brompton and Charing Cross Hospitals where he investigated the effects of sleep on the regulation of the human brain.

After gaining his doctorate, he spent 6 years of working with and listening to insomniacs and realised that if their suffering was to be alleviated then a change was needed in the way that insomnia was managed. He noted that the problem with current strategies was that they were focused on trying to control sleep and whilst some offered some short term relief, they did not provide a long term solution. What Guy understood was that instead of repeat prescriptions, rituals and rule books, insomniacs needed re-education, hence the name ‘The Sleep School’. With this education insomniacs are helped to let go of struggling with their insomnia and allow their natural ability to sleep to emerge once more. To date he has successfully worked with over a thousand one-to-one clients over the last 6 years at his London clinic and has made it his mission change the way in which insomnia is managed around the world to lessen unnecessary suffering.

The event is free. We welcome all those with an interest in ACT to attend (BABCP members and non-members are welcome).

Location: Central London

Pearson (North East Entrance) Lecture Theatre,

Pearson Building, Gower Street,


Directions: The nearest tube stations are Euston Square and Warren Street.

A map of the campus is here:

Dr Guy Meadows London ACT networking 3 May 2013


EDIT:  Dr Guy Meadows has kindly shared a summary of his talk:

ACT for Insomnia (ACT-I) by Dr Guy Meadows – The Sleep School

‘Passengers on a bus’: A new animation produced by ACT SIG!

In Community, Metaphor Corner on February 13, 2013 at 5:23 pm

The ACT SIG is excited to share a new animation production  based on the popular ACT metaphor ‘passengers on a bus’. The animation was created to aid in training and clinical work and is open access to all those interested. The project was created with the help of  ‘Exposure’ organisation (, a charitable youth media enterprise.

You can access the animation on YouTube:

Feel free to share it with colleagues and friends!

Reflections on ACT SIG’s Networking Event: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Training for Social Workers in Sierra Leone with Dr Ross White (30/11/12)

In Community, London Network on December 10, 2012 at 8:18 pm

We were honoured to attend Dr White’s presentation on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) training for Social Workers in Sierra Leone on the 30th of November 2012. Dr White gave an informative and emotive presentation on ACT-inspired work currently taking place in Sierra Leone. We were impressed by the team’s considerate approach in delivering ACT training in a low-income country -taking into account details of Sierra Leone’s painful recent history, cultural characteristics, and being cautious not to impose ideas or constructs derived from a Westernised context.

The importance of this project is revealed by appreciating the immense need for mental health services in Sierra Leone as well as by acknowledging the difficult conditions faced by the group facilitators and training participants (treacherous travel conditions, interrupted electricity supply, high temperatures, group participants who shared a recent traumatic past). Dr White described being moved by the participants’ engagement and hospitality as well as by their willingness to incorporate the ACT skills into their own work as social workers. It was particularly useful to hear an anecdotal description of Dr White observing a participant skilfully replicating an ACT exercise in their work environment as a social worker for young people in Sierra Leone.

An interesting aspect of this presentation was the way by which ACT was tailored to fit the specific cultural context of Sierra Leone. In addition to a number of mainstream ACT metaphors and mindfulness exercises that seemed to work well (e.g., lifeline exercise, self-compassion exercise, the Matrix), the facilitators were innovative in developing tailor-made exercises and metaphors. For example, they used traditional songs to communicate ACT-related themes and developed defusion skills through the use of song and dance.

The project was evaluated by collecting questionnaire data on how the intervention impacted the training participants (at pre, post, and at three months post training). The outcomes were encouraging in demonstrating a drop in participants’ trauma symptoms, increased value-based behaviour and an increase in psychological flexibility. Albeit, preliminary, these outcomes emphasize the value of further expanding this program. Dr White spoke about plans to roll-out another training program in Sierra Leone and for a scheme to set-up a supervision structure for participants who graduate the ACT training course.

The presentation left us eager to hear about future developments of this program in Sierra Leone and we will be on the look out for other programs that aim to implement this type of intervention in other low and medium income countries. In addition to the humanitarian value of such projects, there is also great value in learning if and how ACT interventions can be transferred cross-culturally.

* The ACT training program in Sierra Leone was made possible through the financial contribution of the charity, COMMIT and ACT. For more information visit:

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy training for Social Workers in Sierra Leone – Ross White, London Networking Event, 30 November 2012

In Community, London Network, Trainer on October 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm

The next London ACT Networking event will be on Friday 30th November 2012, 1.30 – 5pm at UCL.

We are pleased to be hosting Dr Ross White, who will be speaking about “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy training for Social Workers in Sierra Leone”.

The population of Sierra Leone has endured a traumatic recent history. During the invasion of Sierra Leone by the Revolutionary United Front rebel group that began in 1999 and ended in 2002, around 40000 to 50000 people were killed and 500000 civilians fled the country (Dufka, 1999). It is estimated that between 7,000 and 10,000 child soldiers may have been part of the fighting forces in Sierra Leone (Government of Sierra Leone, 2005). Gupta & Zimmer (2008) found High levels of intrusion, arousal and avoidance symptoms in 315 children aged 8-18 in assessments conducted 9–12 months after the war. Unfortunately, there is a lack of resource and infra-structure available in Sierra Leone to address mental health problems. This presentation will report on a project that investigated the acceptability and effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) training to local social-workers attending workshops in Freetown and Bo, Sierra Leone. The workshops were facilitated by Beate Ebert, Ross White and Jennifer Nardozzi. In light of the history of Sierra Leone and the demographics of the health workers, we hypothesised that a significant proportion of individuals attending the ACT training sessions would present with post-traumatic stress symptoms. We hypothesised that individuals who screened positive for post-traumatic stress would score significantly lower on measures assessing psychological flexibility, value-consistent behaviour and satisfaction with life. A repeated measures (pre/post/3-month follow-up) design was used to assess whether the ACT training was associated with changes on a variety of psychological measures. The presentation will explore the results of the workshop evaluation, and discuss how culturally valid the ACT approach (and associated psychological measures) are for use in Low and Middle Income Countries such as Sierra Leone.

For more details about this work, read here.

About the Speaker

Dr Ross White is a University Teacher and a Clinical Psychologist working in Mental Health and Well-being at the University of Glasgow. He completed a PhD at the Queen’s University of Belfast that focused on depression and hopelessness experienced by individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. Dr White’s subsequent research has continued to investigate emotional adaptation following psychosis. He has a particular interest in the use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to facilitate recovery from psychosis. Ross has an honorary contact with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Most recently Dr White has been appointed as coordinator of the MSc Global Mental Health programme that aims to educate mental health professionals about ways of addressing inequalities and inequities in mental health provision across the globe.

The event is free. We welcome all those with an interest in ACT to attend (BABCP members and non-members are welcome).

Please RSVP here:

Location: Central London

Pearson (North East Entrance) Lecture Theatre,
Pearson Building, Gower Street,

Directions: The nearest tube stations are  Euston Square and Warren Street. A map of the campus is here:

How does CBT work? Panel discussion, BABCP 2012

In Community on June 27, 2012 at 11:20 pm

There was a lively debate today at the BABCP national conference in Leeds on the mechanisms of change “across the waves” in CBT. Representatives from  a variety of theoretical stances engaged in discussing what the features were of their approaches, limitations and substantial differences between different forms of CBT.

The speakers were:

Adam Radomsky, Concordia University, Canada (chairing)

Tim Carey, Flinders University, Australia

Kelly Wilson, University of Mississippi, USA

Paul Salkovskis, University of Bath

Iris Engelhard, Utrecht University, Netherlands


You can download the debate here (mp3, 85MB file; right click link to download).

Workshop – ACT: Taking The First Steps, with Martin J. Brock, Nottingham, May 2011

In Community, Trainer, Training Events on April 9, 2011 at 10:04 am

The ACT SIG are pleased to be hosting this May 2011 workshop, run by Martin Brock, ACT Trainer and SIG Branch Liaison Rep.

Workshop Introduction:

Clients frequently come to therapy wanting to eliminate or reduce their symptoms – to feel less depressed, have fewer panic attacks, and have fewer cravings to use drugs and alcohol. Many of them are waiting to feel better in order to live better.

Traditional treatment approaches are designed exactly for this purpose – to assist in symptom reduction. But what if there were another way of approaching our clients’ difficulties in living? What if it were not the thoughts, memories, and feelings that are the problem, but instead that individuals presenting for treatment have lost touch with what is important to them? That they are not living a life in support of those things that they truly value? Often, we find that years of disappointment, disenfranchisement, and avoidance have led our clients to make choices based on attempts to feel good, rather than based on building a life that is meaningful to them.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is based on the view that much of psychological suffering is caused by experiential avoidance and cognitive fusion. Rather than trying to change difficult thoughts and feelings as a means of coping, ACT alters the relationship between private experiences and life choices. This workshop will discuss and demonstrate techniques designed to change the ways that one relates and responds to challenging thoughts, feelings, and memories. Specific case material will be welcomed to facilitate learning, with a significant focus on ways in which ACT can be targeted for anxiety, depression ,OCD, problems in living, and a variety of other common life difficulties.  The workshop will also include a strong emphasis on the ACT therapeutic stance and relationship.

This is the “classic” ACT workshop that has been developed over the past two decades to provide a strong foundation enabling adherence and competence in ACT. Major ACT metaphors and exercises in the areas of willingness, defusion, present moment awareness, self-as-context, values, and committed action will all be covered. This workshop will deliver a combination of didactic training, demonstrations, and participatory experiential exercises, with the goal of providing attendees with both a strong understanding of the principles of ACT and a clear experience of what it is like to participate in the types of exercises and activities commonly encountered in ACT. Thus, attendees who register for this workshop should be aware that portions of this workshop will be highly experiential. This workshop teaches ACT by creating a context that models the therapeutic, and sometimes intense, nature of ACT as it is applied in practice.

Places are limited to ensure an optimal environment for experiential learning and therefore booking early is recommended.


Martin is an experienced clinician having well over 30 years clinical experience in the NHS. He has an MSC in Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy and he is a BABCP Accredited Psychotherapist. Martin was the first in the UK to be peer reviewed as an ACT Trainer and he regularly presents workshops both internationally and here in the UK. He is well known for his creative and dynamic workshops and his ability to engage people  from various clinical backgrounds into his unique style of training.

Martin is a committed teacher and he has a Post Graduate  Certificate in Learning  and Teaching in higher education.

When: 26th & 27th May 2011

Where: Nottingham Voluntary Action Centre, 7 Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FB


BABCP Members: £140

Non-members: £170

Further details available by email to:

The Unwelcome Party Guest – ACT Video

In Community, Metaphor Corner on February 14, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Joe Oliver (ACT SIG member and current Treasurer) has created another ACT video of a key metaphor: The Unwanted Party Guest, AKA “Joe the Bum”. This metaphor appears in the original 1999 ACT book and illustrates the ACT move of willingness. Joe also produced the Demons on the Boat video that has also appeared on this blog.

You can download the video for your own use from here.

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