ACT is a modern, research based therapy. Learning ACT means developing a whole new set of life skills. We’ve put together this list of resources to help you on your journey. These are all very helpful, and enormously empowered by working with an ACT therapist and using the book as a resource to empower those sessions.
First. the Association for Cognitive Behavioural Science is a terrific organisation with a wealth of useful resources for people learning ACT. These are a great place to start:
- ACT for the Public – resources on ACBS site, ACT’s main professional body
- ACBS Self Help Bookstore
- ACBS Free Practical Audio Excercises
1. The Happiness Trap book – the simplest, most practical ACT self-help book from Australia’s foremost ACT trainer Dr Russ Harris. Available at most Australian booksellers, and of course on Kindle etc.
From the book’s website “The Happiness Trap is a unique and empowering self-help book – now published in 30 countries and 22 languages – that will enrich your life and fundamentally transform the way you handle difficult thoughts and painful feelings. The title reflects a key theme in the book: popular ideas about happiness are misleading or inaccurate, and will make you miserable in the long term, if you believe them.”
The founder of ACT Steve Hayes says: “Carefully and creatively presents techniques that anyone can use to undermine struggle, avoidance, and loss of the moment. Harris systematically explores how we get into the ‘happiness trap’ and then shines a powerful beacon showing us another way forward.”
2. Mindfulness Skills Vol 1 – Available as an instant MP3 download here.
3. 6 ACT Conversations – excellent and free Acceptance and Commitment Training podcast series, available here.
4. ACT Coach is an excellent and FREE ACT App for iPhone developed by the US Dept of Veterans Affairs – look in the iPhone App store.
Values are what really matter to you. Here’s an approachable blog post from Working with ACT on finding your values.
Here’s an activity called the values card sort that is often used to clarify values.
Values clarification worksheets and instructions on how to use them:
The Happiness Trap Pocketbook – An illustrated guide on how to stop struggling and start living – Dr Russ Harris and Bev Aisbett Now. Russ has joined forces with acclaimed self-help author and illustrator, Bev Aisbett, to produce a highly illustrated, simpler, shorter version of the book that will not only resonate with readers of the original but also find a new audience for Russ’s empowering message.
Users guide to the human mind Fantastic companion piece to The Happiness Trap. In the author Shawn Smith’s inimitable words: I’ll bet that you, like me, have a mind that follows you through life offering constant commentary. A mind can be a difficult thing to live with. That’s why I have written The User’s Guide to the Human Mind: Why Our Brains Make Us Unhappy, Anxious, and Neurotic, and What We Can Do about It. It’s about living with your mind when your mind is driving you crazy. Your mind is not built to make you happy; it’s built to help you survive. So far, it’s done a great job! But in the process, it may have developed some bad habits, like avoiding new experiences or scrounging around for problems where none exist. Is it any wonder that worry, bad moods, and self-critical thoughts so often get in the way of enjoying life? Based in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), The User’s Guide to the Human Mind is a road map to the puzzling inner workings of the human mind, replete with exercises for overriding the mind’s natural impulses toward worry, self-criticism, and fear, and helpful tips for acting in the service of your values and emotional well-being—even when your mind has other plans. Find out how your mind tries to limit your behavior and your potential Discover how pessimism functions as your mind’s error management system Learn why you shouldn’t believe everything you think Overrule your thoughts and feelings and take charge of your mind and your life
Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life The very first ACT self-help book, written by founder Steve Hayes. Absolutely superb, and rather more than it needs to be, taking you deeply through many ACT perspectives and exercises. Available in audiobook. Recommended for those wishing to take things further. “With kindness, erudition, and humor, the authors of Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life educate readers into a new way of thinking about psychological issues in general and life satisfaction in particular. Their combination of cutting-edge research and resonance with ancient, tried-and-true practices makes this one of the most fascinating and illuminating self-help books available. If you’re tired of standard psychological parlance and still frustrated with your quality of life, this book can be a godsend.” –Martha Beck
In This Moment: Five Steps to Transcending Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroscience “Chronic stress is a marker of living life on autopilot. This book gently wakes you up. It asks you instead to live life inside non-judgmental awareness and intentionality—and to do it right here, right now, in this moment. Written in Kirk Strosahl and Patricia Robinson’s usual clear, step-by-step style, it contains scores of practical tips and exercises that gently train and practice a mindful path through stress. You cannot help but be moved.” —Steven C. Hayes Easy to read and understand for anyone struggling with stress and looking to make a turnaround in their life. Dr Strosahl and Dr Robinson have done a superb job of combining leading edge neuroscience, mindfulness and basic behavioral processes to help change behavior patterns that contribute to stress and to make long-term life-changes. The simple five step process of observing, describing, detaching, self-compassion and acting mindfully are nicely laid out with helpful worksheets, practices and strategies to help make change from within busy and stressful lives.
Leave Your Mind Behind: The Everyday Practice of Finding Stillness Amid Rushing Thoughts Essentially a collation of mindfulness and defusion exercises. This illuminating little book offers readers insight into how our thoughts work (sometimes against us) to shape our perceptions and experiences. It includes fifty fun, engaging activities readers can learn in seconds and practice any time to learn to watch and let go of troubling thoughts.
Articles for Psychology Today written by Emily Sandoz, Ph.D
Emily is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at University of Louisiana at Lafayette and director of the Louisiana Contextual Science Research Group. She is also a licensed psychologist who specializes in treating clients who struggle to live with peace and purpose in their bodies, including those suffering with body image disturbance, eating difficulties, medical issues, pain or sexual trauma. Emily is coauthor of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Eating Disorders, Mindfulness and Acceptance for Bulimia, and her upcoming title, Living with Your Body and Other Things You Hate.
Dr. Michael Sinclair’s article “Oh Do Behave! How to Behave Your Way to the Life You Want With Acceptance and Committed Action” for the Huffington Post is a great primer on ACT and ACT Skills.
Kelly Wilson on psychology today.
6 ACT Conversations – excellent and free Acceptance and Commitment Training podcast series, available here.
These Podcasts are largely for professionals, but may helpful:
ACT in context podcast – from main ACBS site – FUNCTIONALLY SPEAKING, excellent, conversational,
Taking hurt to hope – Joanne Dahl’s superb podcast,
CBT RADIO – not strictly ACT, but many excellent ACT interviews here
Australian ACT app: ACT Companion (most highly recommended) features over 25 powerful exercises and tools designed to help you get present, open up, and engage in a rich and meaningful life. “ACT Companion is brilliant. It’s far and away the most impressive ACT or mindfulness app I’ve seen yet” says Dr Russ Harris, internationally acclaimed ACT trainer & bestselling author. At $20 more expensive than others, but far more fully functioned. Great value for money.
Australian mindfulness app: Smiling Mind is modern meditation for young people. It is a unique web and App-based program, designed to help bring balance to young lives. It is a not-for-profit initiative based on a process that provides a sense of clarity, calm and contentment.
Mind the Bump is a free Mindfulness Meditation App to help individuals and couples support their mental and emotional wellbeing in preparation for having a baby and becoming a new parent.
American ACT Coach (only on iPhone for the present, intended shortly to on Android) is entirely free and was designed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs for Veterans, Service members and others who are in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) with a mental health professional and want to use an ACT App in conjunction with their therapy. It offers exercises, tools, information, and tracking logs so you can practice what you’re learning in your daily life.
SmartQuit: Just released in Australia, SmartQuit uses ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) exercises to help people quit smoking. Developed and tested at Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, SmartQuit is different than most smoking cessation programs. Smokers create a personal plan. They are then asked to become very aware of their urges to smoke. Lastly they learn new ways to think about those urges so that they can notice the urge to smoke, without acting on it. SmartQuit is also delivered completely over the privacy of your own smartphone. The Science based SmartQuit is the first smoking cessation “app” that has been tested in a randomized control trial. The preliminary trial was done with 198 smokers and suggests quit rates 2-3 times better than quitting on one’s own.
buddhify: states it is “the most convenient, best value and most beautiful meditation app available today. Helping people around the world reduce stress, sleep better & be present in the midst of it all.” Certainly is the best looking mindfulness app!
The Sleep School App: helps you practice The Sleep School sleep tools & techniques until you have mastered them for life. The app delivers The Sleep School approach across its 5 core areas in a highly interactive audio-visual format.
Headspace is meditation made simple. Learn online, when you want, wherever you are, in just 10 minutes a day. This is expensive, with a monthly subscription, which will add up over time.
Conscious: This free Android only app suggests a different informal mindfulness task each day. You can set reminders to prompt you during the day and you are given the opportunity to report back on your progress each evening. An interesting aspect is that you get to see how many people have signed up to the task with you, creating a sense of community in using the app.
Stop, Breathe & Think – Web – iPhone – Android Free, a great app for computer or smartphone. Great intro and resources for going deeper. Has a check-in that asks questions and suggests some useful types of mindfulness practice.
Insight Timer – iPhone – Android – iPad Free for iPhone and Android with option of purchasing upgrades, $2.99 for iPad. Worth it for the Tibetan bells alone, now expanded with many meditation practices of varying lengths.