Acceptance and Commitment Training Pilot Group

We are planning a pilot course in Acceptance and Commitment Training and we are keen to hear from anyone interested in the possibility. This would be a weekly group session over 8 weeks to explore the ideas of Acceptance and Commitment work. The training draws on similar ideas to Mindfulness and then goes further. Please use the contact page to let us know if you are interested or email

Acceptance and Commitment work was developed initially as a therapy and more recently, a non-psychotherapy form has developed as Acceptance and Commitment Training. Our expertise at Think Thrive! is in learning as a Peer Group process, the group would be a simple course of experiential learning. ACT is evidenced as effective with anxiety and depression and can also help with changing addictive behaviours. For more information and evidenctial references, see the following article.

What is Acceptance and Commitment Training?


The paradox of acceptance

In ACT, it is understood that attempts to change or eliminate thoughts, feelings, emotions, or sensations often paradoxically amplify the very discomfort that we attempt not to experience. The willingness to fully experience thoughts, feelings, emotions and sensations while pursuing valued action (behavior congruent with each individual’s unique personal values) leads to an increased sense of aliveness.

ACT is contextual.

In ACT there is no such thing as a dysfunctional or irrational belief. Rather, it’s all about context and workability. In other words, we can simply ask ourselves whether a certain belief or behaviour is in harmony with the values we hold dear. For example, if someone likes parties but chooses not to go due to a fear of not fitting in, in that context staying home would not be healthy. However, if the reason to stay home is because the individual simply values meeting with friends individually and genuinely has no interest in parties, then in that context, staying home is healthy.

It’s not about mastery of symptoms; it’s about mastery of the experience of those symptoms.

People who suffer from anxiety disorders have desperately tried to eliminate fear and anxiety by getting rid of their symptoms. Instead, ACT asks them to accept and fully experience the anxiety symptoms. This form of acceptance is referred to as an active form of acceptance. It is about acceptance and change at the same time.

Avoid the struggle by accepting fear and anxiety.

ACT is about avoiding the struggle to control unwanted thoughts and feelings by alternatively focusing on how to relate to them. It is the difference between living in a state of fear, and viewing the fear objectively. When we can objectively observe our experience rather than be fused (identified) with it, we are empowered to act in ways congruent with our most deeply held personal life values and convictions. From this new defused (dis-identified) experience, we can live authentic lives rather than be desperately trying to get rid of or suppress the truth of what we are experiencing.

Rejection of thoughts and feelings leads to self-rejection.

One of the dangers of suppression of unwanted thoughts and feelings is that the struggle to suppress them paradoxically reinforces the very uncomfortable thoughts and feelings we don’t want to experience. It’s unnecessary to actually embrace painful thoughts and feelings; we simply need to be willing to be fully present and accepting of them.

What we resist persists.

The more we resist and think about what we do not want, the more we experience it. The path of least resistance is that of learning to accept and be fully present with what we don’t want while working toward what we do want.

ACT is an empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies mixed in different ways with commitment and behaviour change strategies to increase psychological flexibility. The objective is not happiness; rather it is to be present with what life brings us and to move towards valued behaviour.

The core conception of ACT is that psychological suffering is usually caused by experiential avoidance, cognitive entanglement and a resulting psychological rigidity that leads to a failure to take needed behavioural steps in accord with core values.

A 2015 meta analysis found that ACT was more effective in helping people with addictions than placebo and treatment as usual and as effective as traditional treatments, CBT for addictions (it is also effective for anxiety and depression): –

Davies et al, 2015, “A meta analysis of the efficacy of ACT for clinically relevant mental and physical health problems” Psychotherapy and psychosomatics 84(1):30-36

“Acceptance and commitment therapy has been shown to be effective in helping those with anxiety, depression, substance abuse and stress. According to the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), ACT also helps to reduce symptoms of depressive disorders and the intensity of certain anxiety disorders like OCD, relieve distressing symptoms associated with psychotic episodes (such as delusions and hallucinations), and improve general mental health.”