ACT is an example of what is commonly referred to as a third wave behavioral therapy. It is unique in its development in that it was derived from some of the implications of basic research on the function of verbal behavior. This approach suggests that psychological distress is the result of how humans relate to their psychological experience rather than the result of a mental or even biological pathology. ACT assists clients in differentiating between those aspects of life where the only viable stance is that of acceptance and willingness and those where action is required given their desire to live meaningfully. In doing so, clients fundamentally shift from having their lives about their past and their problems to a life about their values and their future.
This class is intended to provide students with a comprehensive overview of and practice with the principles of ACT. To that end, via lecture, experiential exercises, role-play and a self-change project, participants will be presented with the underlying theory (Relation Frame Theory) and assumptions of ACT, an ACT conceptualization of human suffering, a model of psychological rigidity and flexibility and the six basic clinical processes. ACT emphasizes experiential knowledge over intellectual ascent. To that end, participants should anticipate numerous individual and group activities and exercises aimed at providing first-person experience with the processes and outcomes associated with the practice of living.